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Germany

Germany has recovered well from the global financial and euro crisis. To make sure that the future challenges are successfully addressed, a balance between sustainable growth and social participation are essential. To achieve these objectives further reforms are needed as well as an improvement of the macroeconomic framework. Policymakers, businesspeople and the public must face up to their responsibilities. DB Research analyses the economic and political conflicting ideas and incorporates possible solutions into economic and political outlooks. These are based on national sector research, global business cycle and financial forecasts as well as the assessment of international political developments.

313 (11-20)
March 9, 2021
Region:
At the onset of this decisive election year, Germany finds itself confronted with an increasingly multipolar world, a weakened liberal, rule-based world order and rapid technological change. By applying the concept of a SWOT analysis, we aim at kicking off a debate about possible trajectories for the German economy in the post-Merkel era. As key threats to Germany’s "business model" (export-driven with a strong innovative industrial base), we identify (i) a continued erosion of the liberal rule-based trading and investment order and (ii) the falling behind in the global tech race with respect to Green-tech, AI and IoT. By plotting these two threats on separate axes, we then develop four scenarios and identify key drivers that will define Germany‘s position on these axes. For the new government complacency or reactive policies are no options – "High-Tech Made in Germany" might turn out to be an upside scenario. Strong reform effort of both the government and corporate sector is needed in order to secure Germany’s place in the "best-of-all-worlds" scenario. This requires a proper allocation of R&D investments, reaping the benefits of industrial data and an accelerated diffusion of cross-sectoral technologies like AI. [more]
11
March 1, 2021
Region:
The COVID-19-related restrictions on German public life in the winter half of 2020/21 have again noticeably limited the consumption possibilities of private households. Large parts of brick and mortar retail trade as well as service businesses relying on personal interaction had to close, tourism and most of the hospitality industry lie fallow. The unwinding of this pent-up demand will be key to a post-lockdown recovery. But how much momentum can be expected from a meltdown of additional savings induced by the COVID-19 restrictions? To quantify an answer to this question, we present two scenarios. A conservative scenario assumes that about 30% of additional savings will flow back into private consumption in 2021, while almost 70% would remain in household deposits or assets. In an upside scenario with 40% of the additional savings flowing back into spending in 2021 already, our private consumption forecast would be lifted by a good 1pp providing a ½ pp upside for German GDP in 2021. [more]
12
February 25, 2021
Region:
The Jan print of 1% yoy surprised massively to the upside, in part due to one-offs. But the strong rise in core goods prices begs the question whether the Jan readings could herald stronger underlying inflation dynamics. There are still strong arguments for a continuation of structurally low inflation dynamics. However, we see risk that price dynamics could strengthen more strongly through impaired supply conditions. Overall, we now project the inflation rate to average 2.0% in 2021. Towards the end of 2021 the headline rate could spike to as much as 3% before easing to 1 ½% in Q1 2022. [more]
13
February 17, 2021
Region:
German GDP: Down (Q1) but not out (in 2021). The longer “hard” lockdown, weather-related losses in construction and impairments in car output due to chip supply problems have prompted us to cut our Q1 GDP forecast to -2% qoq. We continue to expect a strong rebound in the summer half propelled by healthy global demand, supportive fiscal and monetary policy and German households’ pent-up demand. Inflation: Now expecting 2% for 2021! The Jan print of 1% yoy surprised massively to the upside, in part due to one-offs. But the strong rise in core goods prices begs the question whether the Jan readings could herald stronger underlying inflation dynamics. There are still strong arguments for a continuation of structurally low inflation dynamics. However, we see risk that price dynamics could strengthen more strongly through impaired supply conditions. Overall, we now project the inflation rate to average 2.0% in 2021. Towards the end of 2021 the headline rate could spike to as much as 3% before easing to 1 ½% in Q1 2022. [more]
14
February 2, 2021
Region:
Analyst:
If green hydrogen is to make a significant contribution to climate-friendly energy supply in the future, it will need to be produced (1) in large quantities, (2) cost-efficiently and (3) using low-carbon methods. Any solutions to these problems have remained in the realm of theory so far. Additional challenges arise in connection with the transport and storage of hydrogen. Initially, green hydrogen will be used to satisfy large-scale demand at specific locations, for example in energy-intensive industries. Like many other climate-friendly technologies, hydrogen will need government subsidies in the beginning. In the longer run, hydrogen might be used in the transport sector as well, for example as aircraft or ship fuel. In theory, hydrogen is highly versatile. However, it is quite expensive, too. That is one reason why hydrogen will probably make only a small contribution to the national and global energy transition in the next one or two decades. [more]
15
January 28, 2021
Region:
Analyst:
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered unusual cyclical volatility in the German auto sector. However, structural challenges are much more relevant for the sector - some stemming from regulatory framework conditions (i.e. EU CO2 targets for new cars), others from market developments. Traditional factors which determine a country’s attractiveness as an industrial location, such as the tax burden on corporates, wages or working time flexibility, have recently deteriorated in Germany, at least in an international comparison. Germany’s share in both global and European car production may decline over the coming years. The German car industry is better prepared for the electric mobility future and other structural challenges than Germany as a production location. [more]
16
January 25, 2021
Region:
The COVID-19 pandemic has already changed and will continue to change working conditions in the long run. Companies have opened up for work from home solutions and hybrid work models seem to be the future. The recent increase in flexibility will enable companies to realise efficiency gains. On its own, however, remote working does not necessarily increase productivity per se. As employees work remotely, serendipity suffers. In Germany, demand for traditional office space appears likely to weaken in the medium term but the decline is likely to be smaller than the initial euphoria for remote working suggested. Demographic developments will considerably reduce the German workforce. Remote working may help to ensure workforce participation. We expect that working at the office and remote working will be combined in some way in the future - work from home has come to stay. [more]
17
January 18, 2021
Region:
Winning 53% of delegates’ votes, Armin Laschet - the PM of NRW and Merkel loyalist - secured a slim majority in the run-off for the CDU party leadership on Saturday. This does not come as a surprise, as Laschet was widely seen as the candidate with a small lead in a tight race. In the end, having most governing experience and a track record of winning elections probably tipped the scale in favour of Laschet (e.g. the former SPD stronghold NWR in 2017). Being well-connected within the CDU also paid off for him. However, with a mere difference of 55 votes this is no landslide victory, though still a clearer win for the Merkel camp than AKK’s 17-vote win over Merz in 2018. The slim majority is a reflection of the existing divisions within the party, leaving Laschet with the task of bridging those as soon as possible in this decisive super-election year. Norbert Röttgen (coming third in the election) quickly signalled support for Armin Laschet and was elected to the CDU’s steering committee. [more]
18
December 16, 2020
Region:
The COVID-19 crisis has intensified the lack of profitable low-risk investments, which is why numerous investors probably regard the German residential market as an attractive alternative to the bond markets. Rental returns have been trending downwards for ten years now, and the development looks set to continue until the spread between rental returns and low-risk bond yields has narrowed significantly further. [more]
19
December 10, 2020
Region:
The COVID cycle and vaccination progress will drive the economy in 2021. We expect that infection rates will not come down decisively before Q2. By summer vaccination numbers should reach critical mass. A strong recovery starting in Q2 should yield an annual GDP increase of 4.5% after a 5.5% drop in 2020.
All attention on the super election year 2021: Germany is facing federal elections and multiple state elections. Our baseline scenario is a conservative-green government, but coalition talks will significantly test the willingness to compromise on both sides.
(Also in this issue: global trade and exports, private consumption, labour market, equipment and other investment, the German housing market, public finances, inflation, German industry's corona losses) [more]
20
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