If you read any news this week you know of two big stories – Prince Harry in Vegas and the ongoing “Eurozone Crisis.” Well here’s my outsider in Germany take on the latter:
Nothing is different in Germany. No one is talking about it. You walk by a Burberry or a Tiffany’s and they’re packed. Zara is a madhouse. I had to share a table at Starbucks the other day – a Starbucks that is just down the street from another Starbucks with two local coffee shops and a bakery in between, all packed. Restaurants are still packed. The farmer’s market was sold out of my beloved strawberries before 9am this past weekend (early by Germany farmer’s market strawberry sell-out averages, I assure you). Half of the population seems to drive Smart Cars, the other half fairly newly purchased German-made cars (BMW, VW, Mercedes). I drive by VW, Mercedes, Porsche, Smart Car, Peugeot, and BMW dealerships on the way home and they’re packed at 5:30 pm with parking spilling out onto the street. It appears Germans are spending as much or more than ever, at least from my outsider American perspective. But then again most Germans don’t own homes nearly the size Americans do, so my assumption based on my observations is they spend a much higher percentage of their incomes on cars, restaurants, and clothing/accessories than the average American.
This is a far cry from the endless abandoned shops and the empty restaurants I saw in Barcelona, sure. That’s why Germany’s the economic leader in the Eurozone right now and Spain is struggling. But if you listened to the news you’d believe Germany’s economy is depleting trying to save the Euro and everyone is scared to spend money. While this may be true of investors and banks, I assure you this is not true on a daily spending level here in Germany – or at least not with many Germans.
I have to laugh when I see news coverage on my only two English-speaking channels (CNN and BBC) about the German economy shrinking and Germans holding on to their money. I’ve asked many people at work their opinion on the Greece and Spain and Euro situation and they mostly say things like “oh yeah i heard about that” or “it’ll all work out one way or the other” or return the conversation to what they’re doing that weekend. They are going about their daily lives the exact same as they did a year ago and the year before that. Working hard and spending their money as they see fit – many on vacations to struggling Spain.
This is just my limited view of Germany – what I’ve seen the 6 months I’ve been here compared to my time in America and my one weekend in Spain. Not an expert opinion by any means, but I felt compelled to explain to anyone that reads my blog that if they’re banking on the Euro tanking and BMWs suddenly getting cheaper they might want to remember the Germans work very hard. They’re not going anywhere anytime soon besides to work and back via the Autobahn no matter the currency, the value of the currency, or the political/economic situation going on throughout the world. Unless of course it’s off to a 2 or 3 week vacation to Mallorca. Or perhaps the South of France.