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The naive belief in eternal economic expansion

August 30, 2019
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Given that in the meantime most official forecasters agree with us that the Germans will suffer at least a technical recession, even German politicians and commentators are starting to join the so far mainly Anglo-Saxon chorus, asking for countercyclical fiscal measures. In our view the government should only act if there is clear evidence that we might be at the brink of a deep recession. Despite the undoubtedly massive economic policy uncertainties we do currently not expect such a scenario. [more]

More documents contained in "Talking Point"

130 Documents
September 25, 2019
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Analyst:
1
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 23, 2019
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2
Improved performance in the second quarter has given European banks hope that 2019 may still end on a more conciliatory note and that longer-term prospects are not quite as gloomy as some fear. In H1, net interest income rose year-over-year, despite unrelenting margin pressure. Other revenue components were mixed, with fee and commission income disappointing again. Loans and total assets in general increased. Banks cut expenses further, while loan loss provisions picked up from record lows. In the end, profitability and capital levels remained largely stable. Once more, the transatlantic gulf in performance widened slightly, as US banks reported another rise in net income to a new all-time high. [more]
September 20, 2019
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3
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]
September 17, 2019
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4
As our planet heats up, the public debate has increasingly focused on the use of fossil fuels in the last few years, in particular coal. There is only one major exception, namely the US, whose current administration doubts that human activities are behind the climate change. German hard coal had a share of only 6% in total coal consumption in 2018. 99.9% of the lignite consumed were mined in Germany itself, namely in the Rhineland, in Lusatia and in the Central German district. A number of market observers have been skeptical about or even downright against phasing out lignite mining, mainly due to the negative impact on employment. This is probably the main reason why policymakers have decided to provide up to EUR 40 bn to support/subsidise the exit from lignite production by 2038. [more]
August 23, 2019
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5
What should an honest and law-abiding German citizen think when their finance minister, a high-ranking representative of the state, is investigating whether he can protect them from the actions of another state body, the central bank? This is exactly what the Bavarian Prime Minister Söder is calling for: a ban on negative interest on bank deposits (up to a certain level), whose chances of realisation are now being examined by the Federal Ministry of Finance. [more]
July 2, 2019
Analyst:
6
By providing a high degree of privacy in payments, cash helps to slow the growing information asymmetry between consumers and companies as well as between citizens and public authorities. As knowledge about your counterparty is power, privacy is crucial for individuals to safeguard their position when dealing with organisations which are more powerful than a single person. [more]
June 6, 2019
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7
Capacity utilisation in the German electricity sector has steadily declined over the last few years and amounted only to 34% in 2017. Much of this downtrend is due to the development of renewable energy generation. Average capacity utilisation is particularly low at wind and photovoltaic power plants, which are dependent on the weather. At the same time, these plants benefit from extremely low marginal costs and priority feed-in conditions. This enables them to (temporarily) squeeze out other electricity providers, whose average capacity utilisation has declined as a consequence. There is a political preference for natural gas to compensate for the consequences of the exit from nuclear and coal power generation during the coming years. Nevertheless, there are some risks for operators and investors. [more]
May 23, 2019
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8
Shrinkage – and no end in sight: in the first quarter of the year, the European banks once more saw revenues and costs alike decline compared to 12 months ago (-2% each). Non-interest income was particularly weak. As a result, profitability dipped, with loan loss provisions also rising, albeit from very low levels. Banks tried to make up for the revenue loss by taking more risk and expanding their balance sheets. Total assets and risk-weighted assets both increased by 4%. Consequently, the average CET1 capital ratio fell 0.4 pp yet remained in comfortable territory. [more]
May 15, 2019
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Analyst:
9
For both environmental and economic reasons, a carbon tax would be superior to the current patchwork of subsidies and regulatory law (standards, bans, caps, quotas etc.) which characterises climate policy. However, the tax has a key disadvantage: while it sets a price for carbon emissions, it does not set a cap. That is why emissions trading is even superior to a carbon tax. Despite the convincing advantages of market-based in-struments, a fundamental re-orientation of German and European climate policy unfortunately appears unlikely. Instead, existing instruments will probably be adapted again and again once their negative side effects become too obvious. This will make climate policy less efficient than it could be and more expensive than necessary. [more]
April 18, 2019
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10
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]
March 18, 2019
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11
Although the negative effects from the WLTP roll-out are currently petering out in German auto statistics, the recent weakness of global demand argues against a swift recovery of auto production in Germany. In 2019, passenger car sales look set to shrink slightly or at best stagnate in some key markets (US, EMU, UK), whilst rising only moderately in others (China). A rebound is unlikely to materialise before H2 2019, when output is also expected to turn positive in year-over-year terms. Going by the production index, annualised automotive output in Germany ought to be more or less flat in 2019, in our view. [more]
February 28, 2019
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12
In 2018, net income at the major European banks climbed to its highest level since the financial crisis. Lower administrative expenses and a further fall in loan loss provisions to multi-year lows more than made up for a decline in revenues. Whereas net interest income stabilised, fee and commission income as well as trading income declined. Banks took a bit more risk, and risk-weighted assets edged up. Total capital remained flat despite higher profits as banks increased returns to shareholders and implemented the new IFRS 9 accounting standard. Consequently, capital ratios declined for the first time since 2008. The gap between European banks and their US peers remained huge as the latter benefited from higher interest rates and lower corporate taxes. [more]
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