Socialism slows progress – by Michael Czinkota

My annual assessment of the intellectual and economic proximity between both the United States and Europe indicates ongoing disenchantment and a growing psychic distance from each other. Conditions have changed not all for the better, perhaps because of the thriving growth of socialist thinking. The public preference given to the group over the individual is dangerous to the quality of life in both regions.


England used to stand out for the views and perspectives by its educated experts on money and markets. Now they don’t know and don’t care. New announcements and shifts are just shrugged off or, worse yet, ignored. Refusing to think or getting involved is the equivalent of Sokrates’ poisoned hemlock cup – because conditions will not improve by themselves.


British institutions which label themselves as European need to re-think their position as to its meaning in times of Brexit.  Prime Minister Johnson may not defuse conflicts and polarization. How to help ship captains make a choice between the drowning migrants and personal jail time for their rescue? Are we all in the same boat? Even in theatre performances the audience and troupe performances have lost their traditional bite. 


Germany has a whole set of growing problems. I am not referring to the physical tremors of Chancellor Merkel. When standing is a problem she can sit. In the U.S., President Roosevelt served the country despite difficult illnesses, for more than three terms.

But I am concerned about the diminution of German ability to rely on its traditional strengths. When German intellectuals talk about U.S. policies there is very little well-formed reasoning, or even desire for input and learning. Rather, flash judgements and condemnations are made, remindful of the checking of boxes.

When the official airplanes of both the chancellor and the president repeatedly either can’t fly or must return to land right after takeoff, then the motto of “advancement through technology “does not fare very well. Misleading public information on air contamination by car diesel engines is a shameful event.  Failed technology to measure societal impact of government action is wasteful and inefficient. Expropriation of rental property owners will do little to increase the housing stock.


Increasingly, a sense of proportion and morality is missing. Take the case of Gustl Mollath who, was wrongfully placed in a psychiatric ward for more than seven years after complaining about banking irregularities.  Now,  government offers him a paltry compensation of less than $ 200,000. At the same time, the Deutsche Bank, provides publicly more than $ 10 million for ineffective managers to depart, and we don’t yet know about any additional hidden support. 


The Nordic countries have lots of goods available but few of them are thrilling. The food offered, for example, was surely healthy, but not appetizing. Drinks were hard to get, even at events where conviviality was the objective, not a byproduct. Big praise to the person who found and handed in my disappeared wallet. Thank you, Gary, from the West Coast!

European country governments regulate many things, issues and interactions, a form of localized socialism I suppose. But it means fewer and quite expensive taxis, no Ubers, little adjustment to changing conditions. New government thinking stresses more taxes. France, for example, tries to impose a new 3% tax on large digital companies.

Italy still has very good wines and beautiful bridges from Roman days, but roads are decaying, and modern bridges are crumbling. Speed and parsimony cannot be the only criterion for quality public projects. Modes of transport appear to be routinely under strike during times of heavy use. Austrian government leaders are caught on tape offering the wholesale transfer of government contracts.

People seem content but not driven or forward oriented. Many tasks are either left unfulfilled or waiting for foreign hands, which the both the public and the private sector appear to encourage.

Overarching governing by the European Union seems to be often haphazard, contradicting the desires of the citizens affected. Leadership selection often brings on candidates which govern in spite, not because of themselves. Will the new team of Ursula von der Leyen make its mark with a reduction of regulation? All in all, it’s great to be exposed to history, and remember the British Pound as world currency, Greek and Roma palazzo’s, Marie Antoinette’s cakes, and the Viking battles.. But for now, innovation, change and a forward-looking perspective give good future odds to America.

Prof. Czinkota (czinkotm@georgetown.edu) teaches International Business at Georgetown University and the University of Kent. His latest book is ‘In Search For The Soul Of International Business’, 2019, New York, Business Expert Press

Christmas Tree in Germany


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Watching my brother Thomas organize the raising and decorating of the Christmas tree in Germany’s Bad Soden Catholic Church. Of 10 volunteers three were from Eritrea , two from Somalia. Merry Christmas to all.

The times, in Europe, they are a-changin’

From The Hill

afd_germany_1The German elections are over, and for a brief moment, it looks like all is stable. But make no mistake, this is only the eye of the storm. Germany has already shifted away from the current leadership.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that she has done nothing wrong. While that is true, there are many things she hasn’t done right. Society and its problematics around the world have moved on, circumventing traditional politics and politicians.

From a long-term analytical business perspective, politics requires a new direction. The parties in power may elegantly gloss over losing 10 percentage points in voter support. They talk about how the voters have made a mistake; how all it takes are better explanations and how all these inequities will be rectified shortly. How wrong they are!

Perceptions change. Research by Mintel reports that many consumers now judge soap bars to be a haven for bacteria. Similarly, voters now judge political insiders to be parasites to progress. Our work, which systematically tracks business behavior and expectations over the past 30 years, indicates new core values for voters.

Traditional dimensions of politics and individuals have four key dimensions, illustrated by the four legs of a stool. First is competition, which determines the approach to progress — one party achieves “the winner takes all,” others meekly fall in line for the droppings from the table.

Second is the establishment and management of risk, where steely nerves and occasional disasters determine lifestyle. Then comes profit, which accounts for success in tangible form. Finally, the fourth leg of the stool is property rights, which assure innovators of their return on investments. There now is a simultaneous splintering of all four legs, which inhibits successful conduct of direction.

A new stool with new legs has recently emerged, these changes are crucial in understanding society. First is truthfulness. Firms and voters detest fake news, insincere excuses and thoughtless comments. When the shadows of unreality obscure one’s outlook, exposed people extract a penalty.

Second is simplicity. Employees and citizens want to understand how relationships work and interact. Without that, it is hard to provide or accept truthfulness. Then there is participation, permitting insight beyond simple observation and offering an active role in shaping the conditions which confront one’s life.

The fourth leg is responsibility — going far beyond customary short memories and the traditional pleading of ignorance. The new drive says: “We are here and, if not, we are coming.”

Just as in America, European voters are beginning to be energized by the new legs of the stool and their new criteria. They expect new directions that negate tradition. Judging by shifts in Britain and Spain, stability in Germany may not be that assured.

It’s also not just the money or even economic growth that matter most. Known quantity may give way to even more quality and a rise of local criteria. “Merkelism” will be substituted for Mercantilism. German economic power may be repulsed by regions seeking to regain their cultural self-determination.

The U.S. emphasis on re-shoring, and the enhancing and encouraging of local production is likely a portent of the new Europe, which perhaps reduces Germany from the “King of Exports” to a mere prince. More export-supporting banks will permeate Europe, accompanied by increases in protectionism.

There are still many options for tariff and non-tariff barriers. Within, but particularly outside of the EU, one can expect growing restrictions in both capital and labor flows and a rise of sanctions. Vested interests will become more visible, and provide new decision frameworks.

All that requires a new team. Low-profile politicians will inexorably move onto the new pedestal. Andreas Pinkwart (FDP) and Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU/CSIS) are two who get it. Bob Dylan may have written the song half a century ago, but now more than eve,r we get key guidance from, “The times, they are a-changing.” The change is with us already — the new stool will give us new rules of success and new directors.

Michael Czinkota (czinkotm@georgetown.edu) teaches international business and trade at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the University of Kent. His key book is “International Marketing” 10th ed. (with Ilkka Ronkainen), CENGAGE.