George Pieler and Jens Laurson take issue with the French finance minister's claim that Germany's productivity is what ails Europe's economy. Writing in the Wall Street Journal they compare Germany with Maya the Bee. (Subscribers only, but you get the full article via Google News.)
Maya was a curious, busy bee, always buzzing from adventure to adventure. Her best friend, Willi, however, was less ambitious and had a more rotund physique. His catch phrase was the elongated, nasal cry: "Maya-don't fly quite so faaaaast."
We were reminded of the Willi character when French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde recently called on Germany to compete a bit less effectively. She argued that Germany's success in exporting goods and its high productivity supposedly puts undue pressure on the other European economies. Ms. Lagarde went so far as to suggest that higher German productivity, in part caused by restrained labor costs, might not be a "sustainable" model for the future.
Laurson and Pieler criticize the "concept of economics as a zero-sum game, i.e. France may only gain at Germany's expense" which "is so woefully outdated that one must wonder how Europe ever got as far is it did, economically. It utterly disregards the fact that competition doesn't weaken but strengthens economies."