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Business

US study says Germans more confident about economy than most others

While many people worldwide are concerned about their economic situation, Germans remain optimistic. That comes as no big surprise, says DW's Manuela Kasper-Claridge.

Radiant faces on the street, happy business leaders, content employees - is Germany an island of bliss in times of crisis? This impression may come across to those who read the Pew Research Center's September report on global attitudes about the economy.

In the Washington think tank's survey, 85 percent of Germans rate the business situation in their country as positive - a sharp contrast to those in other developed economies.

In the US, only 40 percent of people maintain a positive outlook on the economy. In Japan, that figure drops to 35 percent and in France, right now, to 12 percent.

The German Mittelstand

The Germans are reaping the fruits of hard work. Before the world wide industrial crisis, employees relinquished high wages to enable investments in their company despite a difficult economic climate. The Mittelstand, or small and medium-sized companies in Germany, maintains a continual employment system even in times of crisis. ”Hire and fire” was - and is - simply not a model for many of these companies.

Instead, they aimed for advanced and continual training in order to remain competitive. The German Mittelstand, which employs 60 percent of state-insured employees on regular contracts, is an important job motor for Germany. Several of these companies are the world leaders in their field - whether machine builders from Baden-Wüttemberg or crane builders from Saxony.

Europeans worry about work places

Germans' opinion on the economy represents quite a contrast to the voices in Greece, Spain or Italy. There, unemployment is of top concern. Germany strongly profits from its industrial base, which generates not only services but also products: attractive cars, highly modern industrial construction and even church clocks.

The fourth industrial revolution is already under way, as German machine builders work in factories from the early morning on. Machines and products that interact well with each other are to secure the ability to compete and create jobs.

DW's Manuela Kasper-Claridge

Manuela Kasper-Claridge says Germans have every reason to be confident

The business potential of Industry 4.0, part of the German government's high-tech strategy, is expected to generate a good 267 billion euros ($339 billion) in Germany alone, calculated the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering.

Pessimistic like the Africans

The glass may be at least half full for the Germans, but for most Europeans it's half or entirely empty. A whopping 88 percent of Europeans surveyed said that the business situation of their country was not going well. Some Africans, such as those in Kenya and Senegal, rated their situation similarly pessimistically.

Millionaires get ahead

The financial crisis worsened the business situation of numerous people. Hoping for the better is not possible for many. Therefore the anger and incomprehension about the income gap continues to grow.

The number of millionaires in the US and Canada is growing more than that in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East combined. The 2.5 million millionaires control a third of American assets, reports the US investment bank Merill Lynch in a study. For bankers, it's a time to think about investment options. Others get upset, and rightly so.

Poor and rich

A whole 46 percent of Americans say that the difference between the rich and poor is too high, according to the Pew Research Center. The same sentiment is shared by 84 percent of Greeks and 55 percent of South Koreans.

But only 39 percent of Germans complain about the growing difference between rich and poor. Germany is not only a country full of optimists, but also realists.

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