Coronavirus: A punch against strong economies, and the case of Germany leading the way
I was recently reading statistics, provided by wolrdometer, of how european countries cope with coronavirus, the number of people being affected and the number of deaths. Although Greece, stands low on the chart that provides data for this pandemic and its evolution, what made me a huge impression, is that neither in international websites and newspapers, nor on international tv channels, one can be informed, that Greece really does well and manages this crisis with success, as it is widely spreaded among Greek citizens...
Another weird thing, that used to be a trivial discussion when the pandemic started to hit most of the european countries, was how is it possible and the underdevelopped world wasn't yet affected, or how is it possible that many African countries with the weakest economies ever, are recording so low numbers of affected citizens, in a period of time that the rest of the world gets tested with this virus?...
One thing is for sure! This pandemic, mostly hit the developed world, where the heart of financial affairs beats fast! Countries like Greece, that are out of this business game and are not considered to be a pillar, or an epicentre for international business meetings, like most of the northeuropean countries, had a luck by accident, to be amidst the ones that avoided more easily, the wave of deaths that shaked Europe, and Italy most of all.
No wonder also, why underdevelopped countries with weak economies, haven't been hitten crucially by the pandemic of Covid-19, at least till now.
The flow of tourists in international airports of most of the developped european countries is so high, during winter and non vacation periods, that cannot be compared to the flow of tourists that can be tracked in Athens International Airport, during same months. So no wonder, why Greece is not referred among the european countries who manage this crisis with success, as the country has mostly been benefited from the fact that one of its structural flaws, which is a non-developed economy, that has no political or international business interest, functioned in favor of it. And of course Greece is only one example between many others...
This is also the reason why total lockdown has been imposed. Because it would be the only way to face the lack of intensive care units, and a health care system that has been deprived of crucial supplies for decades...Still, i admit that the lockdown considering our inefficiencies was early enough!
But what is very interesting to observe, is how Germany achieved its goal to keep the diffusion of Covid-19, under control, comparing to other big economies, with large industries and the common tendency those big economies have...to not lockdown colossal industries that seem to function as lever to their economies.
Ofcourse, the fact that the country was enabled to proceed to massive tests everyday, was decisive, but it already was based on an existing network of almost 200 private and public laboratories...When the rest of the european countries had to build these infrastructures, or impose extremely austere measures, as a way to recompensate for their structural flaws on the health sector, in Germany there were already there, and well equipped!
Another successful approach, was that when politicians came in front of this huge crisis and started to imagine ways of coping with it, local authorities moved fast and prevented access to public places and started tracking the contacts of the people, who already had got infected. The goal for Germany, is to be able to allow 4.5 million tests per week, as long as they will manage to overcome inefficiencies in supplies.
Germany had also the possibility as a strong country, to apply "Kurzarbeitergeld" which means to introduce a system of support, for all workers whose wages were cut as their working hours were cut in advance...This method covered 60-87% of their lost wages. But support extended to companies also.
But industry in Germany, extends in such a huge range, that even this factor made the difference...Car industries might have ceased production for a short while, but sectors like chemicals and steel, kept working incessantly.
In other words, the pandemic of Covid-19 we go through, may be "in favor" of countries with a not so strong economy, for the reasons explained above, and on the other hand not in favor of the countries, that traditionally claim a high ranking position as business centres. But, what made a big difference and had impact in the case of Germany, (which is a great business centre), is the fact that it was so carefully structured and organized in all sectors, that there was not an easy way to be "thrashed", even by an unprecedented pandemic crisis like Covid-19. Economy, and a huge industrial sector, are not enough (given the example of Italy, or Spain, or France, or the UK),...and this is the reason, why Germany is almost the only country, being referred so often, as an example of successful politics and efficient measures, considering the whole picture analyzed above...
written by Themis Panagiotopoulou, PhD in Political Science