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The R-question

February 5, 2019
Region:
Given much weaker than expected January business surveys and in particular the slump in their more forward-looking components we are now expecting the German economy to contract again in Q1 2019. Due to the yet unknown Q4 GDP outcome and its contradictory signals we currently refrain from formally revising our 1% GDP forecast lower again, but are expecting to shave off several tenths of a percentage point come February 22nd, unless the Statistical Offices Q4 GDP breakdown – and the new monthly data available by then – provide us with substantial positive surprises. While a technical recession might be avoided by a hair’s breadth with a positive Q4 number, the development of several key cyclical indicators is telling us that the German economy is drifting towards recession right now. [more]

More documents from Stefan Schneider

83 (37-48)
December 15, 2016
Region:
37
Germany remains an anchor of steadiness with an undisputed role as leader in Europe and is the only country that comes close to being on a par with America. This story of success is based on many structural factors, some of which complement and mutually reinforce each other. We group them as follows: (1) Macropolicies focused on stability and growth (2) Institutions grounded in German ‘ordoliberalism’ (3) Global companies with unique structures (4) An equitable system of social security and cooperative social partners (5) A long-term perspective by companies and citizens with the willingness to forgo immediate reward – in our view the most important factor in the success. The combination of innovative, multinational companies, functioning institutions and highly skilled workers will, in our view, maintain Germany’s competitiveness and prosperity into the future. German politicians are therefore confronted with the increasing challenge of holding the eurozone together. However, if anti-euro movements gain the upper hand in key partner countries, thereby increasing the disruptive risks, there may be a reassessment in Germany of the euro’s costs and benefits. [more]
October 28, 2016
Region:
39
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]
August 22, 2016
Region:
40
The debate about whether a negative interest rate policy (NIRP) helps or hinders the transmission mechanism of monetary policy continues to rage. The BIS and many others – including us* – long ago issued warnings about throwing open the monetary floodgates and the side effects of negative central-bank interest rates, and now Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, has also clearly rejected negative interest rates, despite using all the means at his disposal to prevent the UK economy from sliding into recession after the Brexit shock. The package of measures he launched in August significantly exceeded market expectations, but Carney has ruled out negative interest rates, referring to the adverse impact on the capital markets. [more]
July 27, 2016
Region:
41
There is a high level of excess demand in the housing market and it has grown in recent years. Demand for credit is also growing at a correspondingly rapid pace. The supply of credit could be boosted by further monetary stimulus. In the medium term, more buoyant lending is likely to increase interest rate risk. However, if lending growth remains low, there will be increased risk of overvaluations and a house price bubble. This is particularly true when little new housing is financed and lending is largely for existing property. Given the high level of excess demand in the housing market and the fact that office buildings are being converted to residential buildings, office space is also likely to be in short supply in the coming years. As a result, rents in the office market can be expected to rise more strongly, and could – for a time – outstrip the rise in rents in the housing market. Since Chancellor Merkel assumed office in 2005 her term has been dominated by crisis management, which often required leadership and moderation of differing interests in Europe. Managing the UK’s departure from the EU will have top priority for the time being. Nonetheless, Merkel is likely to focus her attention on domestic topics as much as on European ones in the upcoming months given the looming federal elections in autumn 2017. Also in this issue: Fewer insolvencies in German industry. [more]
July 4, 2016
Region:
42
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 8, 2016
Region:
43
Over the past century central banks have become the guardians of our economic and financial security. The Bundesbank and Federal Reserve are respected for achieving monetary stability, often in the face of political opposition. But central bankers can also lose the plot, usually by following the economic dogma of the day. When they do, their mistakes can be catastrophic. [more]
June 3, 2016
Region:
44
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]
April 4, 2016
Region:
45
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
Region:
46
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
Region:
47
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 17, 2015
48
Even after yesterday’s Fed rate hike – the first in nine years – the central banks will continue to generously provide the global economy with liquidity in 2016. Global growth looks set to remain below the average and uneven in 2016, at 3.3% (2015: 3.1%). With oil prices normalising somewhat – the oil price decline in 2015 probably contributed ¼ - ½ of a pp to global growth – and wage inflation moderate – with the possible exception of the US, where wage growth might finally pick up considerably in view of almost full employment – household consumption will again probably be the most important growth engine. Despite extremely low interest rates, credit-driven exuberance – which, by the way, was one of the reasons for the global economic and financial crisis in the middle of the past decade – seems unlikely in 2016. [more]
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