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German Business Fears Best Days Behind It as Economy Crushed by Loss of Russian Energy

Mercedes-Benz EQS and S-Class passenger cars are transported automatically to their next production step at the ‘Factory 56’, a completely digitized assembly line, at the Mercedes-Benz manufacturing plant in Sindelfingen, southwestern Germany, on February 13, 2023. InternationalIndiaAfricaEuropean industrial behemoth Germany has found itself among the nations hit hardest by the West’s attempt to “punish” Russia for its military operation in Ukraine, with industrial output slumping and the country sinking into a recession earlier this year after losing access to the cheap and reliable supply of Russian hydrocarbons.German business, administrative, and government leaders have expressed widespread dissatisfaction with the government’s energy and economic policy, and expressed fears that the Central European industrial powerhouse’s economy may have “passed its zenith,” with its best days behind it.A survey of 484 company board members, managing directors, government ministers, and other senior decision-makers by the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research for German media has found that only 24 percent of the country’s managerial class is satisfied with Economic and Climate Minister Robert Habeck’s job performance, down from 91 percent just a year ago.Fewer than a quarter of those surveyed expect things to improve over the next six months, with two thirds saying there’s “little chance” the country can restore its lost international competitiveness, and 76 percent saying they don’t believe Habeck or the Ministry of Economic Affairs has the interests of German business in mind to a sufficient degree.Among the top five problems cited by managers which hamper Germany’s competitiveness are high energy costs (77 percent), a shortage of skilled workers (70 percent), excessive government regulation (68 percent), a backlog in digitization programs (65 percent), and dilapidated infrastructure (61 percent).EconomyGermany Runs Out of Money for EU After Ukraine Spending Spree16 June, 10:55 GMT58 percent of those polled said Germany appears to have “passed its zenith” economically, with just 22 percent expecting the economy to pick up again.About three quarters of respondents expressed criticism of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Traffic Light coalition (which includes Scholz’s Social Democratic Party, the Greens – represented by Habeck and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, and the Free Democratic Party). Satisfaction with the coalition government has dropped from 62 percent in 2022 to 21 percent now, with 65 percent of those polled suggesting the coalition’s policies are “weakening the country.”The Allensbach Institute conducted its survey between June 13 and July 7, with the 484 businessmen and officials polled including 89 board members of large companies, 18 ministers, and 28 heads of firms.The German economy officially sunk into a recession in May after economic growth shrunk by 0.3 percent in the first three months of 2023.EconomyGerman Industrial Output Slumps, With Further Production ‘Stall’ Forecast 7 July, 16:03 GMTIn the aftermath of the escalation of the Donbass crisis into a full-blown Russia-NATO proxy war in Ukraine in February 2022, Germany has faced all the problems other Western countries have related to the decision to decouple themselves economically from Russia, like high inflation and spiking energy prices. However, as Europe’s main industrial economy, Germany’s crisis has been even more painful for local businesses, which have expressed concerns about the loss of competitiveness to other global behemoths like the US and China due to the energy-intensive nature of their products.

Washington added insult to Germany’s injuries last year after announcing federal subsidies to certain "green" industries, effectively trying to entice European industry to relocate to the United States for tax breaks and cheaper energy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned in May 2022 that decoupling the European economy from Russian energy resources would threaten the entire region with widespread deindustrialization and loss of competitiveness.Last month, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner announced that cuts in the budget had forced Berlin to halt additional contributions to the European Union’s budget.Economy‘A Form of Suicide’: Germany’s Economic Woes Created by Its Own Sanctions Policy13 July, 19:12 GMT“Germany is both an important supplier for other European countries and an important buyer. A lasting recession in the German economy will certainly have significant effects on France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands,” Paris-based economist Jacques Sapir told Sputnik earlier this month.“If this recession lasts until next spring, the economies of the countries mentioned will also go into depression, which in turn will affect the German economy even more,” Sapir predicted, characterizing Berlin and Europe’s anti-Russian sanctions policy as “a form of suicide.”

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