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Sectors and Resources

The Sector Research team analyses cyclical and structural developments. On the basis of its findings it draws up business and policy recommendations for the major sectors. These include the important branches of industry as well as wholesale/retail, services, energy, transportation and environmental policy

228 Documents
February 20, 2024
Two large German industrial sectors have experienced significant losses in domestic production during the last few years: the automotive and the chemical industries. In the automotive industry, production level in Q4 2023 was 21% below the former peak reached in autumn 2017. Chemical output in Germany was 27% lower than at its the former peak.
Compared to the significant drop in domestic production, employment in both sectors has remained quite stable during the last few years. The number of employees in the automotive industry declined moderately between 2018 und 2022 but has stabilised since. Employment in the chemical industry was even only 2% below its peak at the latest reading.
In our view, production volumes in both sectors are unlikely to return to former peaks. Thus, we expect employment in these sectors to decline before long, as an adaptation to lower production volumes and probably also as a result of more automatisation and efficiency gains. [more]
February 13, 2024
Production in the manufacturing industry in Germany dropped by 1.2% in 2023 in real terms. This was the second decline in a row (2022: -0.2%) and the fourth decline in the last five years. Thus, industrial output was roughly 9% below the record level of 2018. Since manufacturing output dropped significantly in both Q3 and Q4 2023 (-2.0% and -2.2% qoq respectively), 2024 starts with a significant negative statistical overhang. Sentiment indicators seem to have reached a bottom, but business expectations are still far in negative territory. The negative impact of the recent increase in interest rates on domestic industrial production will likely become visible with a time lag because companies have been able to partly compensate the downturn in new orders by working off the orders booked before 2023. We have revised our forecast for manufacturing production in Germany in 2024 to -2.5% down from -1.5%. In this report, we also look at the economic development in major industrial sectors in Germany. [more]
February 8, 2024
The German government this week agreed on the main features of a new power plant strategy. It is intended to address the problem that there will continue to be phases in the future when weather-dependent renewable energies are unable to cover the entire demand for electricity. Back-up power plants with base load capability are currently a necessary building block of an energy strategy based on renewables. German government has decided to bank on hydrogen-ready gas-fired power plants. The government aims to establish a new capacity mechanism by 2028 whereby power plant operators are remunerated for providing secured capacity via tenders. In a first step, 10 gigawatts (GW) of capacity are to be put out to tender in the short term (4 x 2.5 GW). This corresponds to around 20 power plant units. Pending further details, we believe that these plans for a capacity market are a positive development. In our view, it promises greater investment and thus energy security than the alternative of relying on market incentives, i.e., electricity prices remaining temporarily high enough in future to be able to operate such power plants profitably even at low capacity utilisation. One of the major challenges of the future is to obtain sufficient (green) hydrogen for the operation of power plants and industrial processes. [more]
January 3, 2024
There was light and shade in the expansion of renewable energies in Germany in 2023. Installed generation capacity in the photovoltaic sector increased more than ever before in 2023. It will be ambitious to reach that momentum again in 2024. Regarding onshore wind power, net additions in 2023 exceeded the figures from previous years. However, the record from 2017 was missed by a wide margin. Given the high number of new permissions, installed capacity for onshore wind power should grow faster in 2024. For offshore wind power, however, the year 2023 was disappointing. [more]
December 8, 2023
The external environment as well as monetary and fiscal policy should provide strong headwinds. Sentiment will likely be dragged lower by the increasingly evident structural problems. We anticipate a modest recession during the winter half to be followed by a gradual recovery from spring onwards. We expect the government to survive the internal quarrels with respect to the 2024 budget, following the constitutional court ruling. Debt brake reform is unlikely in the short run. A cross-party consensus for a Transformation Fund 2.0 might emerge before September regional elections. [more]
November 9, 2023
The potential use of synthetic fuels (e-fuels) in the transport sector has been a controversial discussion topic for several years. Both proponents and opponents of e-fuels have arguments on their side. In our view, weighing up these arguments suggests that regulation should a priori allow for technological openness so that Hayek's “competition as a discovery procedure” is possible in the first place. E-fuels could be a solution for some applications in passenger car transport that are not (well) served by battery electric cars (BEV). They could help reduce CO2 emissions from new and existing vehicles. The biggest challenges for the use of e-fuels lie in availability, still-high costs and the low energy-conversion efficiency. [more]
October 19, 2023
Production in major industrial sectors in Germany has developed very differently in recent years under the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and energy price shock. For example, manufacturing in electrical engineering rose by 18% compared with the start of 2015. In the chemical industry, there has been a 20% decline over the same period. The differences are not only cyclical, but also structural. In the future, it will be more important to distinguish between Germany as an industrial location and the German industry. [more]
September 18, 2023
Megatrends such as decarbonisation, digitalisation and demographics, as well as signs of deglobalisation, could cause structural supply bottlenecks in the 2020s. In this report, we look at commodities such as copper, cobalt, nickel or lithium, for which global demand is likely to rise faster than supply, not least due to the energy transition. The availability of labour is also increasingly becoming a scarcity factor. Due to supply bottlenecks, potential growth in Germany could be closer to the 0.5% than the 1% mark in the future. [more]
August 1, 2023
Germany is a car-loving country. With a density of 578 cars per 1,000 inhabitants, more than one in two people in Germany owns a car (including children and the very elderly). The number of cars has risen steadily in recent years and shows that - despite the climate debate, congested inner cities and the supposedly car-critical Generation Z - there seems to be no car fatigue in Germany. [more]
July 25, 2023
Germany’s growth is under pressure from renewed cyclical and structural headwinds. In this edition of Focus Germany we introduce our new Nowcast Model for German GDP, predicting that the German economy should have expanded in Q2, but that risks for activity in H2 are increasing. We take the summer break in Berlin as an opportunity for a midterm review of the traffic-light coalition’s work. In a historic flashback we revisit the challenges Germany was facing when the Economist called it the sick man of the euro and which policy measures transformed the country into an Economic superstar a decade later. We find interesting parallels to today’s situation. [more]