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Focus Germany

Focus Germany deals with macroeconomic and economic policy issues in Germany. Each issue also contains a timetable of financial and economic policy events as well as a detailed data monitor of German economic indicators.

72 (21-30)
July 7, 2017
Region:
The German economy is likely to have maintained its rapid growth rate in the second quarter. Consumer spending, in particular, has been stronger than expected thanks to the recent fall in oil prices and the continuing significant rise in employment levels. We have revised our GDP forecast for the whole year upwards to 1.6% (1.3%) which is equivalent to a calendar-adjusted rate of 2%. Considerable house price increases in 2017 and 2018 – and more significant wealth effects? The view from Berlin. Summertime and election campaigns. [more]
21
June 6, 2017
Region:
After Q1’s sturdy 0.6% qoq GDP growth, soft indicators do not signal any moderation of the growth momentum. Employment in 2017 so far, has been expanding at similar clip as in 2016, making our 1% consumption forecast for 2017 quite conservative. Exports have rebounded in the winter half – in line with global trade. The growth momentum of global trade seems to have peaked; therefore, we remain cautious, predicting 3.6% German export growth in 2017 after 2.7% last year. In combination with lingering geo-political uncertainty this will weigh on investment spending, where a utilization rate of 2pp above its long-term average suggests a still limited necessity to invest. Following Q1 GDP growth of 0.6% we have revised our 2017 GDP forecast to 1.3% (1.1%). Latest confidence surveys, however, hint at further upside potential and increasing risks of over-heating for 2018. Political observers in Germany have recently been focusing on the SPD’s ups and downs in the polls and the CDU’s reverse showing while smaller parties are fighting for public attention. From the present point of view (polls) a Jamaica coalition is the sole arithmetically feasible alternative to a renewed grand coalition after the September election. (Further topics: German industrial output – forecast for 2017; Corporate funding in Q1 – lending) [more]
22
May 5, 2017
Growth in global trade almost stagnated at just 1.3% in 2016, and in some months was even negative. During winter, global trade picked up again, rising by around 3% compared to the same period a year earlier. Given the positive sentiment prevailing across the globe, this rebound could well continue. However, this trend is not yet being fully reflected in other hard economic indicators, usually highly correlated with global trade, and sentiment may therefore overstate the actual trend a little. Still, our simple model of world trade, which suggests moderate growth of just over 2% in 2017 and around 3% in 2018 might represent the lower limit of the forecast range. However, compared to previous cycles the upturn could remain weak, not least because of the global trade restrictions that have been progressively ratcheted up since 2008. [more]
23
April 6, 2017
Region:
In international debate public investment is often regarded as a useful lever for promoting higher domestic demand. Despite international criticism and political declarations of intent, public investment in Germany has only increased moderately over the past two years and has remained average, at best, on an international scale. In the coming years, however, public investment is expected to grow significantly. The current investment plans for the federal budget are 40% higher than those adopted in 2013. Public contracts for the construction industry in 2016 were between 15 and 27% above the average of the previous 10 years. The excellent state of the public finances at the various government levels also supports the prospect of increasing investment growth. However, severe capacity shortages in the construction industry are likely to mean that the high demand for investment will not quickly lead to an increase in construction activity. (Further articles: German housing market, Corporate bond boom in Germany, Result of the Saarland election) [more]
24
March 9, 2017
Region:
At face value the pick-up of GDP growth at the end of 2016 (Q4: +0.4% qoq vs. +0.1% prev.) seems to fit with improving sentiment. However, given its composition we would argue that underlying growth was weaker than the headline suggests. We stick to our below consensus GDP forecast for 2017 (1.1%) and only make cosmetic changes in the details. We are raising our inflation forecast slightly overall for 2017, from 1.6% to 1.7%, compared with only 0.5% in 2016. We still expect core inflation to be only slightly above 1% in 2017. If the signs of global price increases are confirmed, then we could in fact see a more pronounced increase in core inflation, particularly if rising prices translate into second-round effects when wage negotiations are conducted in 2018. (Further articles: German industry, German election campaign) [more]
25
January 30, 2017
Region:
2016 GDP growth picked up further relative to the previous two years (1.9% vs. 1.7%). Growth was strongly tilted towards consumption thanks to several tailwinds (refugee crisis, low inflation, labour market strength), while slowing exports weighed on private equipment investment: With several tailwinds fading and a strong workday effect weighing, GDP growth looks set to slow to 1.1% in 2017. Recent sentiment indicators herald some upside risks for the current quarter. However, the 2.3 point drop in the expectations component of the January ifo index seems to corroborate our more cautious stance. In an unexpected turn, SPD party leader Gabriel announced that he would not run against Angela Merkel. Instead Martin Schulz, the former president of the European Parliament, will be the party’s frontrunner. Mr. Schulz’s unexpected nomination is likely to push the SPD’s campaign for the federal election on September 24 but unlikely to derail Merkel. [more]
26
December 21, 2016
Region:
German GDP growth is expected to slow somewhat in 2017 following considerable momentum over the last two years. We note the growth rate will almost half, to 1.1%, in 2017, but around half of this is due to a smaller number of working days. While the economy will likely have to do without a number of special factors that provided a boost to domestic demand in 2016, we believe that the underlying robust domestic economic growth path remains intact. Weak global trade and political uncertainty will dampen exports and investments. The ECB has in all but words indicated that tapering will begin in 2017. European interest rates are likely to remain at very low levels in 2017, at least at the short end. [more]
27
October 28, 2016
Region:
German wage growth slowed in H1 2016 and there is a range of factors that are likely to also put a lid on the pick-up in 2017. The impact of labour shortage is limited by material mismatch between the qualifications of the unemployed and those sought by employers as well as substantial immigration flows. High real wage gains have pushed up unit labour costs and weighed on corporate profitability, which is further undermined by low productivity growth. Cautious wage agreements in 2016 on average stipulate only 2% wage increases in 2017. Despite a 4% increase in the statutory minimum wage, aggregate wages should increase by only around 2 ½%. According to our forecasts, next year could see the growth rate for industrial production in Germany drop to 0.5% in real terms. Regarding output in Germany’s large industrial sectors we do not expect major outliers. Also in this issue: “The View from Berlin. All lights on the debates about personalities and tactical gambits.” [more]
28
October 4, 2016
Region:
The policy of low and negative interest rates has had a limited impact on the returns on household financial assets in Germany to date. The nominal total return has averaged 3.4% over the last four years. Even nominal returns on interest-bearing investments did not slip below 2% until 2015 because a large proportion of longer-dated and mostly higher-coupon investments dampened the effect of evaporating market returns. High and stable revaluation gains have also buttressed total returns over recent years. They have probably been enhanced in no small measure by the ECB’s Quantitative Easing programme. Interest income and revaluation effects are likely to be a greater burden in 2016 and 2017. The income return on other assets is also likely to drop on account of the financial market environment. The scope for further significant revaluation gains is likely to be limited given already very high valuations. In 2017 the real total return could even become negative (again). [more]
29
September 2, 2016
Region:
Against the backdrop of strong Q2 growth and the revision of historic data, we increase our GDP forecast for 2016 to 1.9% (from 1.7%). For 2017 we lower our growth forecast to 1.0% (from 1.3%). Muted wage growth will likely weigh on consumption growth and subdued exports as well as high global uncertainty might negatively impact equipment investments. Further topics in this issue: Fiscal balance, Current account surplus, Retail investors, German industry and View from Berlin. [more]
30
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