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State subsidies for battery cell production: For information on risks and side effects, please do not consult policymakers or recipients of incentives

April 18, 2019
Not least because they fear that the trend towards electromobility may cause losses in value added and job cuts in Germany, policymakers are debating subsidies for national battery cell production. From a regulatory perspective, supporting local manufacturing would be dubious and comes with high economic risks. On princi-ple, German automakers ought to be better judges than policymakers, both with regard to the indispensability of battery cell manufacturing in Germany and its long-term profitability. The state is not needed, at least not as a source of subsidies. [more]

More documents from Eric Heymann

127 (13-24)
January 27, 2020
A country’s prosperity is still closely linked to its energy consumption. As 80% of the global energy consumed is based on fossil fuels, high prosperity (measured as GDP per capita) tends to imply high per-capita CO₂ emissions. France is the G20 country which is closest to the goal of being quite prosperous on the one hand and keeping its per-capita carbon emissions relatively low on the other. Nevertheless, France is far from being a climate-neutral economy (which is the political goal). [more]
January 9, 2020
The shift towards alternative propulsion technologies, such as e-mobility, is currently the biggest challenge for the global auto industry. So far, this structural change is driven mainly by government regulation and not so much by market forces. At the moment, electric vehicles only have significant market shares if they are heavily subsidised. While e-cars can help to reduce carbon emissions in the EU, the favourable climate effect will be smaller than many supporters of electric mobility expect. A higher market share of e-cars will lead to manageable job losses in the German auto industry; however, local factors are key for value added. [more]
December 20, 2019
In 2019 we've been asked lots of questions about the German economy, politics – fiscal policy and the black zero, in particular – and, more fundamentally, about Germany’s future given the risk of a more permanent reversal of globalisation, the increased environmental focus, the challenges for the German car industry and the widespread notion that Germany might miss the boat on the big data economy and other technological trends. This is why we are also discussing these issues in this report. For 2020 we anticipate a gradual recovery in global trade, which should enable a piecemeal recovery in exports and help end the industrial recession. We expect equipment spending to decline in 2020. On the other hand, the domestic growth pillars – private and government consumption as well as construction – should continue to expand at a healthy clip. But annual GDP growth of 1% forecast for 2020 after 0.5% in 2019 is clearly underwhelming, especially since the acceleration versus 2019 is almost exclusively the result of an unusually high number of working days in 2020. [more]
December 17, 2019
With their „European Green Deal“, the European Commission expressed an admirable ambition to be climate-neutral by 2050. Are such ambitious long-term goals good for the credibility of European climate protection policies? Especially when they include only the vaguest notions of how to get there, and when the measures for more efficient climate protection that can be implemented in the short-to-medium term are not making sufficient progress? I don’t think so. [more]
November 25, 2019
Passenger numbers at German airports recently fell for the first time since December 2017. The decline is largely due to economic reasons, such as the cyclical slowdown and lower supply due to airline bankruptcies. Air travel is increasingly coming into the focus of climate-policy regulation. Traffic at regional airports may be hit most. In contrast, large airports are likely to see passenger numbers increase further. “Flight shame” looks set to remain a niche phenomenon. [more]
November 4, 2019
German exports and global trade have been moving in lockstep recently and more or less grinded to a halt in yoy terms. We found that the Bundesbank’s leading indicator for global industrial production leads German exports by 4 to 5 months. Recent declines in this indicator do speak against a recovery in German exports before the end of Q1 2020, despite recent signs of stabilization in German foreign order intake. (Also included in this issue: house prices in Germany, labour market, automotive industry and German politics) [more]
November 1, 2019
Between 2000 and 2018, German net energy imports declined by almost 12%. Oil and nuclear energy imports were down considerably as oil heating becomes less popular and the German government has decided to give up nuclear energy. In contrast, net natural gas imports are trending upwards. Coal imports did not start to decline until 2016 and were still considerably higher in 2018 than in 2000 because domestic coal mining was abandoned. Germany’s dependence on energy commodity imports has not declined much over time. In 2018, almost 71% of the necessary energy commodities were imported (2000: 72.6%). [more]
September 30, 2019
A new (green) 'fiscal deal' in Germany? The climate protection programme is no game changer for fiscal policies as it will be largely counter-financed by additional revenues. The ecological steering effect of the climate package is also limited since the initial carbon price will be low. Speculations that Germany will finally relent and embark on a decisive fiscal policy loosening have proved to be overplayed. We stick to our call that we will not see a fiscal package unless Germany enters a severe recession. Still, Germany’s budget surpluses are set to narrow considerably in 2019/20. (Also included in this issue: German labour market, industrial production, auto industry, the view from Berlin) [more]
September 25, 2019
The climate action package is a classic example of political compromise. It aims to support climate protection without overextending private households and companies. Criticism is perfectly justified. In the final analysis, however, the climate action package is also a reflection of the society's attitude towards climate protection: Whilst a majority of Germans support more climate protection, only a few are willing to shoulder the financial burdens. [more]
September 20, 2019
So far, Germany’s efforts to arrive at a more sustainable energy profile (the ‘Energiewende’) have focused on the electricity sector. However, attention is increasingly shifting towards the transport sector and its steadily rising carbon emissions. Decades-old demands, such as replacing road by railway transport, are being repeat-ed once again, even though they have been found impossible to realise. And some new concepts are being presented, such as micro e-mobility. However, their contributions to transport reform are negligible at best; they may even prove counterproductive. Ultimately, the solution is simple, if uncomfortable: long-term climate protection goals (i.e. virtual carbon neutrality) can only be reached by a considerable decline in traffic, unless technology makes significant progress. Policymakers will find it difficult to convey this message, seeing that individual mobility is one of the key concepts of a liberal society. [more]
August 19, 2019
We see Germany in a technical recession, as we expect another ¼% GDP drop in Q3. Our forecast for 2019 is now 0.3%. Given no indication for a rebound we lowered our 2020 forecast to 0.7%. We acknowledge these revisions do not properly account for the recent accumulation of risks. Given the increasingly fragile state of the global economy, the realization of one or more risks could easily push the economy into a completely different scenario, where growth revisions of a few tenths of a percentage point will not be sufficient. (Also in this issue: German automotive industry, chemical industry, house prices, corporate lending, the view from Berlin, digital politics.) [more]
July 8, 2019
In case of a snap election in Germany, a CDU/CSU-Greens coalition could be an option. Given both camps' radically different political positions in many areas, such a coalition would require both to make significant compromises. A black-green government would need to direct its focus and its available financial resources to climate protection and the energy transition. Corporates and consumers would have to bear considerable costs. This also spells a dilemma for fiscal policy. A larger share of government spending would necessarily have to be allocated to providing subsidies and mitigating the social impact of a quicker energy transition. Citizens and corporates cannot hope for major tax relief. (Also included in this issue: German goods exports, German industry, labour market, automotive business cycle.) [more]