Chasing lower costs, Steiff outsourced around a fifth of its production to China in 2003 but has now decided to come back because of concerns about quality and staff turnover.
Steiff is one of a small number of German firms which are swimming against the tide and leaving China, despite its cheaper workforce and a burgeoning consumer population. With fuel at record highs, some cite mounting transport costs.
Production of Steiff toys, which include a distinctive long-limbed bear with a melancholy growl, will come back to Germany and other countries in Europe by the end of 2009.
That's sort of heartening, except that as it continues to develop, China will deal with quality issues. Japan listened to W. Edwards Deming in the 1950s and soon "Made in Japan" meant, not cheap, tinny and shoddy, but innovative, reliable and affordable.
In any case, this is clutching at straws. Tiny companies making high-value toys won't sustain Western Europe. We need major changes if we're going to become globally competitive. For example, health and welfare provision will have to be reassessed as the budgets shrink.
And here's a big debate to come: how much education? How much benefits the economy, how much is positional (Swiss finishing school for your daughter, etc), and how much is luxury consumption, like foreign holidays and Lagerfeld dresses?
How much education is simply an illogical, implicit pretence that the government is doing something to give all children relative advantage, particularly yours? How much is to disguise unemployment? How much is to keep potential young criminals penned-in during the daytime on weekdays? How much is to baby-mind children so that women can be driven out of their homes to do low-paid work?
As the money dries up, there will be an education debate, and it will be messy.