Ralf Lochmüller, CEO of Lupus alpha, began his speech by posing a big question: Are Europe and Germany really the big losers from the latest geopolitical conflicts and their economic consequences? Russia’s attack on Ukraine has been fanning the flames of this decline, with Germany’s entire business model – consisting of cheap energy from Russia, security from the USA and orders from China – seemingly imploding on 24 February.
Yet, as Lochmüller observed, it is often difficult to see through a crisis when you are caught in the middle of it. We tend to continue following trends without changing them – and the current trend is not exactly working for us. He therefore responds to this pessimism with another question: Can Germany pull off a turnaround and regain its place as the driving force of Europe? According to Lochmüller, we still need to walk through this valley of tears first, because a recession is on its way.
Yet while such phases can be painful, they can also act like a heavy thunderstorm that clears the air. Lochmüller is convinced that this storm is already long overdue for several reasons. Our economy has formed some unhealthy dependencies in recent years, zero interest rates mean that unprofitable companies have not been driven out of the market, and our political and social structures and processes have become inefficient to the point of complete stagnation. The current crisis has laid all of these facts bare, showing once again that progress, change and consistent prosperity are inconceivable without genuine crises.
Politically speaking, what is needed is far-sighted, bold policy that strengthens Germany as a place to do business. That means modern infrastructure, rapid approval procedures and a solution to our energy issues. As for companies, Lochmüller is confident that good companies find a way – no matter what! Looking back, this period could go down in history as a “shake-up of the agenda”.
In an interview, Ralf Lochmüller explains where he gets his sense of optimism and expresses his confidence that “yes, Germany is fit for the future”. He discusses what Lupus alpha is learning from its conversations with companies and how the recession could have a cleansing effect on politics and the economy.
(* in german)