Repair Building

All buildings need repairs from time to time. For most of them the basic structure is solid enough so that isolation or maintenance will do. However, 100 years old buildings that have lived through 2 wars might have deep rooted deficiencies that are not visible at first glance. This can be observed in Berlin near the city center in a popular neighborhood with many visitors in „Schöneberg“ sometimes translated as „pretty hill“. The building at the crossroads seems to have been renovated only a few years ago, but the static of the building is so unstable that the city council has decided to block the whole crossing for circulation due to the danger of an imminent collapse of the building. The neighborhood has mixed feelings. It is great that the danger has been identified in time and blocking the road reduces the nuisance of traffic in the surroundings full of restaurants and cafes. The cover up of the repairs and renovation at the building is shocking as there appears to be just paint over basic structural faults. Construction work has failed to detect and prevent the static risks. An inspectorate that acts promptly to avoid bigger disasters is a societal asset.


For some societies and cities it is a continuous question of how much resources we should invest in infrastructure. Access to funding is a major concern. The calculation of the viability of the project needs careful examination and evaluation. Societies have very different kinds of preferences and, interestingly, about time horizons for their deliberations.

There are examples that have been built to last a century and lasted 2000 years. Other worst scenario examples are built for just one World Expo and torn down afterwards. The Eiffel tower is such an example of the latter kind, but it lasted longer than 100 years by now. We should be thinking more about time horizons as it remains an often overlooked part of investment in infrastructure. The oldest city in Germany has many buildings from the Roman occupation that still characterize the city’s architecture. This remains an important economic factor for the city of Trier as an attractive location for tourists throughout the year. Only wars or negligence may cause severe deterioration if infrastructure has been built with an emphasis on its lasting value. The narrow-minded investment in downhill skiing like in the Swiss Alps is at best expected to last 20 years. For trees to grow there again it will take 50+ years. Sustainable investment will be viable and vital in many respects. High interest rates force us to recalibrate our societal and private s again. Taking into account a longer time frame for investment we indirectly build infrastructure that should last longer. Moving beyond short-termism is necessary, particularly in the field of investment in infrastructure.

Trier 2023-12

Clearing Rubbish

Just next to the Circular Line “Ringbahn” and the Gasometer in Berlin there is yet another huge area in preparation for further construction. The “Berlin Südkreuz” train station connects by ICE directly to Leipzig, Nurnberg and Munich. New company headquarters have been built in the direct neighbourhood and several housing blocks. Clearing more areas that mainly stocked rubbish like broken cars over years had to move out and thousands of people will be able to find new homes soon. Demand for such projects is still high, although the financing with high interest rates has become a challenge for private persons. Interesting building concepts have been realized in the district of Berlin with some focus on social and inclusive housing in a broad sense. A process of gentrification is also observable, whereby the higher rent in the district pushes out people and families that no longer can afford the increases, most of them even above inflation rates in the past few years.
The urban planning advances in large strides. With the almost finished Gasometer the vision from the visitors’ platform on the top will soon allow to observe the next construction site. Clearing rubbish is already a good step ahead. Getting rid of the pollution and contaminated ground will take some time as well.
In the East of Germany, the sun rises early and so do construction workers. We expect to continue to be early birds in this area. Maybe we can have a few additional trees, schools and a kindergarden as well for the newcomers. The whole local infrastructure will be put to yet another test. You have to like change and embrace the continuing challenge of becoming more densely populated in Berlin. It is a social lab right in our neighbourhood. The “Rote Insel” is clearing out its rubbish, the number of buggies with babies is rising fast now.


Der Gaspreis (TTF in Amsterdam) ist zum Ende Mai 2023 auf ein Tiefstwert von 23,50 € pro Megawattstunde zur Auslieferung einen Monat später gefallen. Der Unterschied zum Höchstpreis von ca 300 € übersteigt die Erwartungen der meisten Kunden. Das sind die Spekulanten und Zwischenhändler. Der Preis für die Endverbraucher bewegt sich weniger. Kartellbehörden in Europa müssen wachsam bleiben damit die Endverbraucher nicht zusätzlich zur Kasse gebeten werden. Gaslager für zivile und militärische Zwecke wurden vom Bund billig vor Jahrzehnten verkauft (Privatisiert) und sind jetzt wieder zu einer unverzichtbaren Infrastruktur geworden. Der Kapitalismus fällt immer wieder in seine eigenen Fallen durch exzessive Volatilität. Öffentliche Infrastruktur braucht langen Atem und sollte dazu dienen, die übertriebene Spekulation mit der zeit Grundversorgung der Bevölkerung zu vermeiden. Gaslager, Öllager, Wasserspeicher und Stromspeicher bei zentraler Stromerzeugung gehören dazu. Dezentrale Lösungen verstärken die Resilienz und Souveränität weiter. Europäische Solidarität hilft enorm, diese Herausforderungen zu meistern. Wichtig ist nicht nur der Einkaufpreis, sondern der Preis vor und nach Steuern sowie Unterschiede zwischen Industrie und Haushalten (Beispieldaten OECD 2014 für Jahr 2012, IEA Gas Market Report various years). Die ökologischen Sauereien rund um die Shale-gas Förderung in den USA haben uns wohl geholfen, besser durch die künstliche Verknappung von Gas für Europa durchzukommen durch die Erhöhung der gesamten Fördermenge. Ein weiteres “worst case szenario” zur Bekämpfung von Preisschocks. (Paper Link)