"It is high time the German economy got some respect. It has been faring much better lately than either the United States or Britain, despite the scornful predictions of Anglophone economic observers," writes Eamonn Fingleton in the American Prospect.It turns out that the German system was quite successfully reformed after all:
Per-capita income. Measured at ruling exchange rates as of 2008, Germany's per-capita income was $44,600. That was within hailing distance of America's $47,500 -- an impressive performance in itself and all the more so when you realize that the typical German worker put in just 1,432 hours in 2008 versus 1,792 hours for the typical American.
Life expectancy. Germans now live nearly 14 months longer on average than Americans. By contrast, as recently as the early 1980s, life expectancy in the former West Germany trailed the United States by fully 17 months (and, of course, East Germany was even further behind). A nation's life expectancy is a function of several key aspects of national well-being, and as such it is a useful reality check on purely money-based economic rankings. In particular, it tests a nation's ability to provide its citizens with decent health care.
Trade. Germany's trade performance over the longer term has been nothing short of spectacular. From 1998 to 2008 the German current account went from a deficit of $5.9 billion to a surplus of $267.1 billion. The contrast with the United States could hardly be starker: The American current account deficit shot from $233.8 billion in 1998 to $568.8 billion in 2008.
Innovation. Germany is a leader in key new technologies, including renewable energy such as solar and wind power. Germany is also the political and economic driving force behind the Large Hadron Collider, the huge new European particle accelerator that is exploring some of the most fundamental questions in physics, and the resulting breakthroughs should redound disproportionately to Germany's advantage.
Jobs. Even in the case of unemployment -- a yardstick that for most of the two decades since reunification had been a major embarrassment for Berlin officials -- Germany is now doing better than many other nations. As of December 2009, the jobless rate, at 8.1 percent, was well below America's 10 percent.