Immigrants, With Their Split Identities, Trigger Soul-Searching in Germany
Comment of the Day

August 17 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Immigrants, With Their Split Identities, Trigger Soul-Searching in Germany

This article by Bojan Pancevski for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“It took an eternity for the conservatives to admit that Germany is a land of immigration. People from Turkey, Spain, Italy, Greece and so on came to our country to help us rebuild it, but they had a difficult time integrating here,” said Sebastian Hartmann, a lawmaker with the Social Democrats and co-author of the bill.

The #MeTwo debate and the pending legislation are challenging complex, decades-old attitudes in Germany regarding nationality and ethnicity, and raising questions about Germans’ willingness and capacity to integrate foreigners and their descendants.

Germany needs to attract workers as the current population ages, according to economists who say the country must lure at least 400,000 skilled outsiders a year to maintain economic growth.

Already, nearly a quarter of Germany’s 82 million people have at least one immigrant parent who was born without German citizenship, according to 2017 figures. And the country takes in almost as many newcomers a year as the U.S., mostly European Union nationals who are free to work across the bloc and asylum seekers who can’t be turned back under international law.

Eoin Treacy's view

Many countries in Europe have failed at integrating millions of migrants because their appeal to multiculturalism was in effect a way of segregating incoming populations and led to an under toe of racist sentiment which remains in place today. That means it is difficult to absorb even second-generation immigrants and that poses domestic challenges for every country. However, if countries cannot absorb migrants and cannot create a wholly independent identity of a welcoming generous society then what hope do they have of forming the long dreamed of European identity of bureaucratic Europhiles.

The challenge for countries like Germany, France and UK is they now have large young domestic populations of people born within their borders who feel loyalty to countries they have never seen. That is a direct result of multiculturalism rather than the alternative assimilation approach pursued by the USA at least until recently.

This is a significant issue for Europe particularly in less economically vibrant areas where large numbers of people have been disenfranchised by the march of globalisation and now find that they are competing for what jobs there are with immigrants. The fact that immigration is generally positive for growth and that many immigrants have more of an entrepreneurial spirit than the domestic population is hard to swallow when living standards are declining. There is no doubt that assimilation works best when the economy is flourishing and everyone’s lot is improving. It’s a lot more difficult to succeed at integration when competition for scarce resources intensifies.

The broad Europe STOXX 600 Index has been ranging below 400 since 1999 and has been locked in a congestion area below that level for the last 18 months. A number of global indices like Wall Street, the FTSE-100, Taiwan and Japan have completed comparable lengthy ranges.

My conclusion over the last few years has been that the Index would therefore be more likely to break out to new highs than fail at that level. However, the internal dynamics of the range have been on the downside and the Index has struggled to rally even as the Euro has weakened. That underperformance relative to other assets is unlikely to insulate the market from a wider correction when it eventually takes hold.

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