Good coverage in the Christian Science Monitor of Germany's famous Mittelstands - the 3 million small and mid-sized businesses that form the backbone of Europe's largest economy. Key quote:
"The Mittelstand account for more than half of German exports and 70 percent of its workforce."
Mittelstands tend to be concentrated in 4 sectors: machine tools, auto parts, chemicals, and electrical equipment. They also tend to be family-owned or controlled, focused on long term performance and employee oriented.
Because they are mostly industrial companies, most Mittelstands aren't well known. One exception is Mont Blanc pens, which like most Mittelstands does most of its manufacturing in Germany.
The article also covers the rise of Berlin, often called the new Paris or New York, as a growing center for the arts and entertainment. Key quote:
"Low costs have made the city a magnet for artists and writers. By some estimates, more than 65,000 artists reside here. It is also an unofficial playground for the under-30 "globorati" who fly in on cheap flights from Barcelona, Spain, and Rome."
Our recent trip to Europe confirmed this. Berlin is amazing.