Magazine

Kohl--Not Schroder--Was the German Star


Compared with Helmut Kohl, Chancellor Gerhard Schroder has done very little, if anything, to modernize Germany ("The man who revived Germany. Inc.," "Stars of Europe," European Edition Cover Story, June 11). During Kohl's 16-year reign, East and West Germany were reunified, numerous public services were privatized, and labor reforms, albeit small, were enacted.

Schroder not only made a career of opposing Kohl's accomplishments but also rolled back most of his labor reforms. He then restricted part-time work, increased taxes on energy, and publicly supported a weak euro. Now the results are clear--as the country suffers from chronic high unemployment, surging inflation, and plunging business sentiment. This is hardly revival. Moreover, last year's economic success in Germany was mere spillover from America's titanic, nine-year economic boom and had little to do with Schroder's policies.

Pierre Gosselin

Quakenbruck, Germany Robert Barro argues that the Korean government has been reluctant to sell its banks to foreigners ("A Yankee imperialist offers Asia a road map," Economic Viewpoint, June 11). In 7 out of 11 commercial banks in Korea, foreign investors now hold somewhere between 32% and 65% of shares. For five of those banks, the largest shareholders are such investors as Goldman Sachs (Kookmin Bank) and Allianz (Hana Bank). This change lies at the heart of the continuing reform efforts undertaken by Korea since the 1997 economic crisis. We are determined to expand this openness even further.

Barro also argues that the currently low stock market index in Korea may indicate the beginning of a Japanese-style long period of low growth. Korea's economy is highly outward oriented, with international trade amounting to 64% of gross domestic product. Barro should be reminded that highly outward-oriented economies like Korea's, while vulnerable to short-term volatility in global markets, rarely go into prolonged recessions unless the entire global economy goes into one, which has not happened for nearly a century.

Byoung-Joo Kim

Trade Policy Counselor

Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade

Seoul In predicting the no-inflation scenario, the Federal Reserve is forgetting historical evidence--that during the past two decades prices have usually risen after periods in which the Fed loosened monetary policy ("If the worst is over, why is the Fed so tense?" American News, June 4). This time it's like crossing a widening crevasse in a glacier. The first across (the Fed) has the easiest time; for the consumers, the hole is becoming deeper and they may never make it. Anything can (and will) happen.

Armin Stuk

Rijeka, Croatia Microsoft's Passport is seen as a repository of all our credit-card numbers, log-on IDs, and passwords, while Hailstorm is seen as a database of all of our contact lists, calendars, electronic mail, and much more ("Microsoft: How it became stronger than ever," Cover Story, June 4). The hackers and crackers of the world will see this as the ultimate target. Law-enforcement agencies will want access, and Microsoft will want to charge us a lot for its use.

Charles J. Wertz

Buffalo


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