Thursday, 27 January 2011

A sign of the times

"Dried eggs!" Tai-O, Hong Kong

Taking a trip on a train

I know I have written this here before, trips on trains, trams or buses give me the opportunity for sleep, writing in my note-book and reading newspapers.

In the winter my bike lives in the cellar therefore I travel daily on trains, trams and buses. Even though most of the journeys that I take are just short, thirty-minute ones, I always manage at least one of my three options.

As today’s train journey has developed into a six-hour Marathon, almost double the usual allotted time, I have managed all three.

Now on the last leg of the journey and almost at my destination, I am adding a fourth activity. I am fiddling on my net-book, writing up my notes. There is as big a chance that I will miss my stop as there is when I read the newspaper, I am now so engrossed.

The usually very fast ICE train got delayed by a broken-down goods train on the track ahead, that caused us to follow the pretty regional route where the speed restrictions added thirty minutes on what is usually a sixty-minute journey.

I do not mind being given extra time on my journeys. In fact I enjoy it, especially if it works out like it has this time, with my having several hours to sit in the warmth and comfort of German trains as I wait for them to take me onwards and home.

So on the slow ICE train I fetched myself coffee and cake, and then settled down with the Guardian Weekly, glad at last to have the time to read last week’s copy.

And what hit my eyes the moment I randomly opened it?

“German growth strongest in two decades”

Odd that, because yesterday I was walking home from the tram and I noticed yet two more shops with their shutters down. That makes seven that have closed now since I went to Hong Kong at the beginning of December.

The two Internet cafes have “To let” signs on the windows, as have the fitness studio, the chemist, and the corner pub. Now the One Euro store is shut and another that I do not remember what it was, I think a driving school.

There are not enough small affordable flats in the city for the numbers searching, perhaps the owners of these properties need to consider making conversions, then the “To let” signs may disappear more quickly.

I was surprised therefore when reading further that in the opinion of this Guardian Weekly writer, Germany is talking about a V-recovery, and not the predicted W-recovery, from the economic crisis. I am surprised that they are talking about a recovery at all but perhaps it is because the recovery is happening at the top and the crisis has just hit the High Street and its just-too-little shops at the bottom. The upward-turn if here at all has come too late for these small businesses, of which there are now far fewer in my neighbourhood.

Or are German economists boasting too early about there now being the highest number of people in employment since 1992? Surely with a 7.5% unemployment rate that is still millions who are out of work and perhaps many are the same people who are now searching for a smaller flat.

The article tells us that although the Germans are reluctant spenders they grew more confident in recent months and are buying consumer goods again. But obviously not from the veggie shop across the road or the chemist around the corner. Or, as I said, perhaps the upturn came just too late for them.

I read too that China is also doing well from Germany’s V-recovery, with China and Hong Kong receiving 5% of German exports. Will the Chinese now be reading Made in Germany on their products as I often did in England in my childhood. In Germany these days I seem to be reading more and more frequently Made in China on the products that I “consume”.

In the very last paragraph of this article it says that wages are rising in Germany so spending can now increase. Spending will have to increase because it also says that inflation is rising because of higher food and energy costs. Not much difference in what is left in our pockets at the end of the month after all, if inflation and the afore-mentioned wage increases tally.

As for conductive work...

I have been working ever-more hours over the last few years, as have many of my friends who work in the field of social-service provision. I have not been working more hours because of a steep rise in demand for our services, I do not think there has even been a steady curve. My hours have increased, just as elsewhere because of economic cuts, leaving fewer people to do the same amount of work.

What comes first the chicken or the egg? The conductor or the clients?

Perhaps this is really is a sign that Germany is making a V-recovery. A new conductor has been employed for our team and exactly what we hoped for is taking place; as of next week our larger team will be enjoying the company of two new clients.

I do so hope the recovery really continues and that the closing shops indicate only that sadly the V-recovery came too late for them, and not that it is in fact a W as many people have predicted elsewhere . We do so want to keep our new colleague and attract even more new clients.

Notes

“German growth strongest in two decades” by Julia Kollewe – Guardian Weekly, 21.01.2011

1 comment:

Anne said...

Interesting post - I'm guessing I'm a bot biased as it was one about Germany and I'm naturally interested.
Anyhow I do like your question about who came first. Conductors or clients. So slowly I'm getting more clients too, so that means the conductor first but those clients are returning one or have heard about it through former clients. So I guess clients but then would they have come back if it wasn't for a great previous conductor. Not sure. Classic chicken and egg situation. I do hope things stabilizing more in Germany. Sounds similar to the canadian situation.

Aenna