An economics minister should know without a doubt what insolvency is – and also be able to explain it in terms that are as understandable as possible. On the evening of a day full of massive criticism of his conclusions from the energy stress test, Robert Habeck left a different impression on "Maischberger". Even from his own coalition there are accusations that he only wants to resort to two of the last three remaining nuclear power plants in extreme emergencies to secure the energy supply in the coming winter.
That drives up energy prices, so the criticism - also from Habeck's coalition colleague Christian Lindner (FDP). Prices that many people can hardly or no longer afford. "There will be unreasonable demands, at least in terms of price, for the German population," Habeck admitted openly to "Maischberger" on Tuesday evening. With the consequences that could have, the minister loses his line. The star documents the exchange of words in the program at this point:
"Do you expect a wave of bankruptcies at the end of this winter?" asks hostess Sandra Maischberger.
Habeck: "No, I'm not doing that. I can imagine that certain sectors [take a deep breath] will simply stop producing. Not go bankrupt, but - I mean - at the moment I can't buy rolls, let alone in peace to have breakfast, but I know from all over the world that the rolls in bakeries and the rolls in the discount stores are about twice as expensive. And if the prices rise relatively, then the difference increases, and then - we see that everywhere now - Shops that depend on people spending money - flower shops, health food stores, bakeries are among those that have real problems because there is a reluctance to buy, and then they are not insolvent, automatically, but they might stop selling ..."
Maischberger (astonished): "... if I stop selling, I don't earn any more money, then I have to file for bankruptcy, after two months, if I didn't do it, I've delayed bankruptcy ..."
Habeck: "You would become insolvent if you made ever bigger minuses with your work..."
Maischberger: "Yes! But how can you not make a bigger minus if you pay people but don't sell anything. Well... [smiles wretchedly]... how should one... well, I didn't understand it, one hears to work, but..."
Habeck: "I would like to point out that there does not have to be a wave of insolvencies automatically. But it may be that certain transactions are no longer profitable and are then discontinued. Maybe they will be resumed later, that can be the case. So that's it yes, then no classic insolvency. But if we don't find a remedy, it may be that the ... that companies - bakeries, handicraft businesses, cleaning companies and so on - then stop their economic activity over this year. That's a danger, and that we must meet."
Maischberger: "Well, they're broke [shrugs their shoulders] because they can no longer work, but they don't file for bankruptcy. Well, I think you really have to reconsider that point, but I have the feeling that they The right answer hasn't come up yet, with you."
Habeck: "Well, in the case of Corona, politicians decided to take over all the costs. That was enormously expensive. We haven't made this political decision yet, but the decision has been made that the costs will be taken over by the companies that work in the international face competition and thereby lose production because they cannot pass on their costs..."
Habeck: "... the baker could theoretically, yes, pass on his costs through higher bread roll prices, but only theoretically, because people then avoid it and say: 'Then I'll just buy it from a discount store' or toast bread or whatever people then anyway ...then eh..."
Maischberger: "And then the baker goes bankrupt."
Habeck: "Then the baker would be broke. Exactly. If he would bake and not sell the rolls."
Maischberger: "And what are you doing for the baker now?"
Habeck: "We are working on support programs that help companies, deviating from this very strict rule, if they are in international competition, the baker does not do that to get support. I just explained that."
Habeck: But this support must firstly be such that we use the financial possibilities for it in a targeted manner, and secondly, that we define the programs in such a way that we do not believe that we have helped everyone and that in reality the standards are set - for example would be It's comparatively easy if we take a share of the energy costs, of sales or of the products... - but you also have to see that many other costs for products, for raw materials, have risen, so that you may not even get them that you have to catch. So what I want to say is that we are working flat out on the right solution, I would say like in the stress test, that means we look at the data closely and that is the right way to make the right decision come."
Maischberger: "No one wants to swap places with you at the moment, and yet it is the case that the survey values even for you - you are at the top with Annalena Baerbock - are currently falling. The criticism comes from Christian Lindner (...), in principle too from the SPD, that's your other coalition partner (...), does that apply to you?"
Habeck [with a pursed mouth]: "Not at all. I think everyone is under pressure and everyone deals with pressure differently. How colleagues deal with pressure is up to them. I write laws, write regulations, and I do I believe that we in the Ministry of Economics have laid down a legal and performance record that doesn't need to hide, to put it modestly.And in doing so we have made a major contribution to energy supply, security, the implementation of sanctions, economic aid in Germany stabilize this country. And we don't bow down to Putin."
Watch the full length of Robert Habeck's performance on "Maischberger" in the ARD media library.