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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.

40 Documents
April 6, 2017
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]
March 9, 2017
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]
December 21, 2016
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]
October 28, 2016
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]
July 4, 2016
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]
June 3, 2016
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]
May 12, 2016
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]
April 4, 2016
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]
March 3, 2016
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]
January 28, 2016
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]
December 16, 2015
The German economy was extremely stable over the course of 2015, although the volatile newsflow that ranged from the oil price shock, material euro exchange rate depreciation, “Dieselgate” right through to the refugee crisis could make one think otherwise. Driven by a 15-year high in private consumption growth economic output rose by more than 1 ½% in 2015, as already achieved in 2014. Economic growth is set to accelerate to nearly 2% in 2016, following a pretty stable trend over the course of the year. Private consumption should remain the most important growth driver. Public consumption will remain expansionary given the continued influx of refugees and resulting public spending. If refugees can be successfully integrated into the labour market, the refugee crisis will provide Germany's ageing society with a medium-term opportunity. [more]
November 5, 2015
Since the last Focus Germany, some disappointing economic data have been published that fuelled the speculations around a slowing German economy. We do not believe that this requires revisions of our GDP forecast, though. Just like last year, the weakness of the industrial data is overstated by holiday effects. Nevertheless, there is a risk of an even lower foreign demand than stated by our already cautious estimates. This, however, is balanced by the upward risks for the domestic economy. Due to the migration dynamics over the summer months, we are reducing our budget forecasts for 2015 and 2016. Relative to gross domestic product we now expect surpluses of 0.3% and 0.0%, respectively (previously 0.7% and 0.5%). [more]