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Veronika Grimm: Prognosis of an economic wise man – the population has to adapt to hardships

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Veronika Grimm: Prognosis of an economic wise man – the population has to adapt to hardships

According to economics expert Veronika Grimm, people in Germany have to be prepared for hard times. In the current phase of stagnation in the German economy, it is less important “whether we are just above or below the zero line,” said the economist, who is a member of the Federal Government’s Advisory Council, to the newspapers of the Funke media group. “The fact is: In a phase of very low or even negative growth, people have to be prepared for hardship. There are real losses.”

This is a major challenge in a transformation phase, especially politically. “It is important to me that politicians give the people a clean slate and make it clear that the conversion of the economy to climate neutrality costs something – including the individual citizen,” said Grimm, accusing politicians of a lack of courage. “A lack of courage has already characterized Angela Merkel’s time in office. You only go as far as you can sell the voters. This will continue with the traffic light government.”

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Power struggle in the industry

The criticism of the economists: “One always looks at the next election where one can be punished and does not dare to do what is necessary. And now funding is being promised to an extent that cannot be sustained – at the expense of future generations’ room for maneuver.”

“What applied to last winter also applies to this winter”

One point that Grimm took up was the power supply. The gas supply could also become tight again in winter – despite the liquid gas terminals that have now been built. “There are still countries in Europe that purchase Russian gas, and if the supply were to be cut off, we would have to rush to help,” said the economist. “What applied to last winter also applies to this winter. And one can hope that things will go off without a hitch again.” Ideally, the population would be “sensitized in a similar way to last year – and then heat more sparingly”.

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The gas storage facilities compensate for fluctuations in consumption and thus form a buffer system for the market. In winter, the filling levels usually decrease, after the end of the heating period they increase again. According to earlier information from the Federal Government, the amount of natural gas stored in the reservoirs at 100 percent level corresponds to the consumption of two to three average cold winter months.

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Significant deterioration

She also described an industrial electricity price as counterproductive. “If you lower the electricity price for the energy-intensive industry, then the demand for electricity there increases,” she said. This makes electricity on the market more expensive for everyone else whose prices are not capped. “This affects medium-sized companies and many future-oriented companies that represent an opportunity for Germany.”

The Greens and parts of the SPD had asked for subsidies for a special industrial electricity price. In the opinion of SPD parliamentary group leader Matthias Miersch, however, this should be linked to conditions for the beneficiary companies. “This includes investments in efficiency measures, renewables, storage or electrolysis systems,” Miersch told the Funke media group newspapers. This should enable a climate-neutral industry.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) have repeatedly expressed reservations about a state-financed industrial electricity price. Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens), on the other hand, is demanding that electricity prices for energy-intensive companies be subsidized for at least a few years, because industry in other countries can work with much lower prices.

Shortage of skilled workers and retirement age

Grimm also considers measures to be necessary when it comes to financing the pension. She is in favor of automatically raising the retirement age as life expectancy increases. “The standard retirement age should be linked to life expectancy,” she told the newspapers of the Funke media group. “The formula in the future could be: If life expectancy increases by one year, two thirds of the additional year would be added to gainful employment and one third to retirement.” Development.

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With a view to the shortage of skilled workers, Grimm also demanded that the “trend towards early retirement” should not continue. “We have to ensure that people want to and are able to work longer, i.e. that the actual retirement age increases.”

According to the current legal situation, the age limit will be gradually raised from 65 to 67 years without pension deductions. For those born in 1964 or later, the standard retirement age is 67 years. The traffic light coalition has so far ruled out a further increase.

“I am firmly convinced that we no longer need to keep raising the retirement age,” said Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday at a citizens’ dialogue in Erfurt. “Anyone who leaves school now at 17 has five decades of work ahead of them. I think that’s enough.” If someone wants to work longer, he should be able to do so – “but not because he has to, but because he or she can”.

What Scholz said during the citizens’ dialogue:

Baden-Württemberg’s Finance Minister Danyal Bayaz (Greens) recently warned that regular retirement at the age of 67 would not be sustainable if prosperity remained the same. In many professions, he increasingly considers working longer hours to be reasonable.

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