De­industriali­sierung: „Selbst schuld“ sagt der zu­ständige Minister

Am letzten Sonntag (22. Januar 2023) ging es in meinem Podcast im Gespräch mit Professor Dr. Sinn um das Thema der Deindustrialisierung. Eine wichtige Rolle spielt dabei die Zukunft der Energieversorgung und der Energiepreise. Darüber spreche ich kommenden Sonntag (29. Januar 2023) mit Prof. Dr. Lion Hirth, Professor für Energiepolitik an der Hertie School in Berlin. Zur Einstimmung einige Artikel.

Zunächst hier die FINANCIAL TIMES (FT), die mit Blick auf die Gaskrise das Thema der Deindustrialisierung diskutiert:

  • BASF first responded to the soaring price of gas by shutting down its ammonia plant and reducing the run rate of its acetylene facility, hobbling production of two chemical building blocks used to make a host of different products that are vital to modern industrial value chains. (…) By October, the company had gone much further, concluding that higher energy costs had so badly undermined Europe’s competitiveness that it would have to transform its entire business.“ – bto: Das bedeutet, dass man in Europa nicht mehr viel investiert.
  • Chief executive Martin Brudermüller announced that BASF would downsize in Europe ‚as quickly as possible, and also permanently‘. Most of the cuts are expected to be made at the Ludwigshafen site.“ – bto: Und das ist die Folge der deutschen Politik, die sich (auch) weigert, Erdgas im Inland zu fördern.
  • Since the summer, companies across Germany have been scrambling to adjust to the near disappearance of Russian gas. They have dimmed the lights, switched to oil — and, as a last resort, cut production. Some are even thinking about moving operations to countries where energy is cheaper.“ – bto: even thinking about ist gut. Das ist zwingend erforderlich.
  • „BASF is currently building a €10bn chemical complex in Guangdong, south-eastern China, which is the largest foreign investment in its history.“ – bto: Das ist richtig, denn China bleibt auch in einer „geteilten Welt“ das Zentrum eines sehr großen Marktes.
  • Some in Berlin eye the new China plant with suspicion. ‚They’re basically building another version of Ludwigshafen there,‘ says one German official. ‚The fear is they might one day shut down the German site altogether and transact all their business in the Chinese factory instead. Their shareholders couldn’t care less, as long as the money keeps flowing.‘“ – bto: Enteignen! VEB Chemie Ludwigshafen wird dann mit massiven staatlichen Subventionen für den Sieg des klimagerechten Sozialismus kämpfen! Die Wahrheit ist bitter. Eine Regierung, die sich nicht um die Rahmenbedingungen kümmert, bewirkt genau das.
  • „ (…) BASF can’t afford not to be in China, which accounts for 50 per cent of the global chemicals market and is growing much more strongly than Europe. There were risks, Brudermüller told reporters in October, but ‚we’ve come to the conclusion that China is an opportunity . . . and it makes sense to expand our position [there].‘ Germans should ‚stop this China-bashing and look at ourselves a bit more self-critically‘.“ – bto: Wie nett formuliert. Das müssen wir dringend!
  • „ (…) companies across Germany are finding themselves burdened by exorbitant short-term energy costs. KPM, one of Europe’s oldest porcelain producers, founded by King Frederick the Great of Prussia in 1763, fires its vases, cups and plates in kilns that are heated to 1,600C and has no alternative to gas. ‚It’s the company’s biggest crisis since the second world war,‘ says chief executive Jörg Woltmann. ‚We’re living hand to mouth.‘“ – bto: Jetzt muss man allerdings wissen, dass KPM in den 260 Jahren wohl noch nie nachhaltig profitabel war.
  • Government statistics released last month said production in energy intensive industries, which account for 23 per cent of all industrial jobs in Germany, had declined by 10 per cent since the start of the year. Sectors like metals, glass, ceramics, paper and textiles have taken the biggest hit. ‚That means there are 1.5mn workers in Germany whose industries are currently under pressure,‘ says Clemens Fuest, head of the Ifo Institute.“ – bto: Und dieser Druck wird real.
  • Some help is already on its way. In September, chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the creation of a €200bn ‚protective shield‘ to cushion the impact of higher energy costs on companies and households, including a ‚brake‘ on the price of gas.“ – bto: … aber das kauft nur Zeit und die Frage ist: wofür? Denn ohne eine Aussicht auf bald wieder wettbewerbsfähige Preise nützt das nichts.
  • The concern now is that industrial production could, in the long term, shift away from Germany altogether. A poll over the summer by the BDI, Germany’s main business lobby, found that nearly one in four Mittelstand companies — the small and medium-sized enterprises that form the backbone of the German economy — were considering moving production abroad. It was principally energy costs that were triggering the shift.“ – bto: … und Besteuerung, Bürokratie und Klimapolitik.
  • Industry leaders cite measures such as the EU’s industrial emissions directive and its chemicals strategy for sustainability, designed to ban the most harmful chemicals in consumer products. ‚The regulatory burden that’s building up might be manageable for global players but I don’t know how a midsized company of 100-200 people is supposed to digest it…’” – bto: Ich persönlich kenne Unternehmer, die aus diesem Grund ihr Unternehmen verkauft haben. Sie konnten nicht mehr mithalten.
  • The investment climate elsewhere is beginning to look more attractive. The Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which includes $369bn of subsidies for green technologies, has the potential to seduce dozens of German businesses away from their domestic base. Under the IRA, subsidies for purchases of electric vehicles would be restricted to those made with parts from North America and assembled there, a regime the EU says would damage Europe’s industrial base and breach World Trade Organization rules.“ – bto: Wir wissen, es lohnt nicht, zu klagen. Genauso falsch ist es aber, nun auch viel Geld für Subventionen auszugeben. Wir brauchen bessere Rahmenbedingungen.
  • Some are going so far as to predict that Germany will become denuded of its industrial base. A recent note by Deutsche Bank analyst Eric Heymann predicted the share of manufacturing in Germany’s gross value added — 20 per cent in 2021 — will decline in the coming years. ‚If we look back at the current energy crisis in about ten years, we could see this time as the starting point for an accelerated deindustrialisation of Germany,‘ he wrote.” – bto: So ist es.
  • Robert Habeck, economy minister, told a conference in November that some were taking an ‚almost sensual pleasure‘ in predicting Germany’s decline, defining problems ‚just so they can wallow in them‘.“ – bto: … der Startschuss für Marcel Fratzscher, entsprechende mediale Entlastungsmaßnahmen zu starten – „Popanz”.
  • Germany has also shown in the past that it can successfully change its business model when its back is to the wall. ‚Agenda 2010‘, the sweeping liberalisation of the social security system and labour market pushed through by chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2003, is the prime example. The reforms were credited with encouraging tens of thousands back into work and reducing long-term unemployment.“ – bto: Dazu habe ich vor einigen Monaten im Cicero einen ausführlichen Beitrag geschrieben. Der große Unterschied zu damals: Heute fehlt die Erkenntnis, Bereitschaft und Fähigkeit zum Wandel.
  • The country has made valiant efforts to find alternatives to Russian energy imports, building import terminals for liquefied natural gas, bringing its mothballed coal-fired power stations back online and extending the life of its nuclear reactors. It is also speeding up the rollout of wind and solar power, a key part of its plan to derive 80 per cent of its electricity from renewables by 2030 — up from 50 per cent now — and go carbon neutral by 2045.“ – bto: Das wird – so meine Meinung – die Deindustrialisierung noch beschleunigen.
  • The scale of the challenge is indeed gargantuan. The wind industry says Germany must put up 6 wind turbines a day to meet the 2030 goal, requiring as much as 3,300 tonnes of steel per day — or nearly half an Eiffel Tower. Yet between January and June of this year, it managed a rate of less than one turbine a day.“ – bto: Wie sollte es auch anders sein? Ein Land, das keine funktionsfähige Infrastruktur hat, in der jede Investition bürokratisch verhindert wird… und in dem der Nachwuchs glaubt, das Ende sei nah, statt MINT zu studieren, dem kann man nicht helfen.
  • Markus Steilemann, head of the VCI, the German chemicals trade body, says that faced with such hurdles, Germany risks ‚turning from an industrial country into an industrial museum‘. Asked about Steilemann’s comments, Habeck, the economy minister (…) implies it only has itself to blame. ‚They didn’t diversify their energy supply but relied on Russian gas,‘ he says. ‚And that has now turned out to have been a mistake.‘“ – bto: Die Atomkraftwerke haben die Grünen abgeschaltet und das in der größten Energiekrise des Landes. Andere Minister würden alles daransetzen, Schaden vom Land abzuwenden. Hier ist das Gegenteil der Fall. (Anmeldung erforderlich): „Germany confronts a broken business model“, 6. Dezember 2022