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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.

75 (31-40)
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]
31
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]
32
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]
33
July 27, 2016
Region:
There is a high level of excess demand in the housing market and it has grown in recent years. Demand for credit is also growing at a correspondingly rapid pace. The supply of credit could be boosted by further monetary stimulus. In the medium term, more buoyant lending is likely to increase interest rate risk. However, if lending growth remains low, there will be increased risk of overvaluations and a house price bubble. This is particularly true when little new housing is financed and lending is largely for existing property. Given the high level of excess demand in the housing market and the fact that office buildings are being converted to residential buildings, office space is also likely to be in short supply in the coming years. As a result, rents in the office market can be expected to rise more strongly, and could – for a time – outstrip the rise in rents in the housing market. Since Chancellor Merkel assumed office in 2005 her term has been dominated by crisis management, which often required leadership and moderation of differing interests in Europe. Managing the UK’s departure from the EU will have top priority for the time being. Nonetheless, Merkel is likely to focus her attention on domestic topics as much as on European ones in the upcoming months given the looming federal elections in autumn 2017. Also in this issue: Fewer insolvencies in German industry. [more]
34
July 4, 2016
Region:
The political and economic implications as well as the order of events of the Brexit are currently very hard to predict. We assume that Europe – as usual in recent years – will “muddle-through”. The ECB will not panic, but wait to assess the consequences of the UK’s choice to exit the EU. Due to Brexit we lower our 2017 German GDP forecast to 1.3% from 1.6%. About half of that is due to lower export growth. The other half of the revision results from lower investment in machinery & equipment by German corporates. All told, domestic demand should only feel a marginal impact given that the fundamental drivers – healthy labour market and construction sector – remain intact. Further topics in this issue: German consumers, labour market and Germany in the aftermath of the EU referendum in the UK. [more]
35
June 3, 2016
Region:
We revise down our Q2 GDP growth forecast from 0.3% to 0.1% as we expect material payback for Q1 strength. While we remain optimistic with regards to the labour market, we think that the impetus from low oil prices to real incomes is fading. In addition, the mild winter has allowed construction work to be brought forward, albeit the payback might be limited by the strength of underlying construction demand. Given weak export sentiment, falling investment goods orders and lower capacity utilisation, we think investment in machinery & equipment is going to weigh on Q2 growth. We maintain our 2016 GDP forecast (1.7%), though. Despite spending on refugees, the German national budget generated a surplus of 0.7% of GDP in 2015, the largest since 2000. However, the healthy short and medium-term fiscal outlook only marginally reduces the need for the reform of public finances. [more]
36
May 12, 2016
Region:
CSU leader Seehofer and SPD leader Gabriel have advocated a stabilization of the level of the public pension scheme’s benefits. This would mean to skip one of the past decade’s major social policy reforms that aimed at enhancing the public budgets' fiscal sustainability. Mr. Seehofer has even questioned the complete architecture of Germany’s pension system by also stating that the Riester-Pension had failed. Obviously both party leaders are in search for popular topics for the imminent federal election campaign, given that in 2017 more than one third of the eligible voters will be 60 years old or older. But it is doubtful whether the promotion of pensioners‘ interests will help both leaders to improve their parties’ image. Further topics in this issue: High returns on direct investments in Germany, Global trade growth remains subdued. [more]
37
April 4, 2016
Region:
According to our and consensus expectations Germany will record 4 years (2014-2017) of above potential GDP growth in an extremely narrow range of 1.5% to 1.7%, despite substantial shocks and massive swings in growth drivers. If growth breaks out, a downside move seems more likely than higher growth. The economic slowdown in the oil-producing countries due to the falling oil price also carries implications for the German economy in terms of its foreign trade. Although the overall effect is positive for the German economy, German exports to oil-producing countries remain under pressure. Capital spending on residential construction has been growing sluggishly in recent years. The main reasons are: a shortage of building land, increased regulatory hurdles in virtually all construction sectors, high construction costs and a lack of skilled workers in the construction industry. [more]
38
March 3, 2016
Region:
Despite the challenging environment German exporters gained global market share in 2015. The year 2016 has not got off to an auspicious start, however. Our new “Export Indicator” points to a double whammy for German exports in 2016. The less favourable outlook for the demand and especially for the exchange rate impact looks set to slow export growth to around 3% in 2016. When analysing German exports, it is worth looking at sector-specific factors as they can play an even more important role than the macroeconomic environment. Overall, German industry faces a challenging year for exports. Further topics in this issue: House prices: Imminent return to normal, overvaluation likely; GDP growth 2016: More domestically driven & facing more downside risks; Merkel likely to weather even weak state election results. [more]
39
January 28, 2016
Region:
After three years of high GDP forecast accuracy, we were off the mark by a substantial margin in 2015. The miss can mainly be traced to our assumptions with regard to oil, the USD, the magnitude of the refugee influx and a bit of bad timing, as the USD and oil saw a massive adjustment right after we had published our 2015 forecast. Last year’s imponderables are once again at the top of our list of forecast uncertainties for 2016. In this issue we also look at the wage round in 2016 and Chancellor Merkel’s asylum policy. [more]
40
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