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German elections: Kitchen table polling stations are open
Polls are in flux.
Polls are in flux. The SPD – pulled up by popular frontrunner FM Scholz – has exploited the conservatives’ ongoing weakness and turned a seemingly hopeless endeavour into a neck-and-neck race. In parallel, the Greens are stumbling. In the midst of this volatile political atmosphere, postal voting has started. As most postal voters intend to cast their vote quickly, there is little time left for the faltering conservatives and Greens to regain voters’ support. [more]
Due to significant demand/supply imbalances as well as climate policy measures, energy prices were the main driver of consumer price inflation in Germany in 2021. In 2022 as a whole, prices might increase by more than 20% for gas on average and by more than 15% for electricity. In that case, higher gas and electricity prices would substantially boost Germany’s inflation rate in 2022 (by up to 1 percentage point). In the medium term, a more ambitious climate and energy policy will very likely continue to raise consumer price inflation. At least over the transition period, rising CO2 prices (via the national carbon levy or the EU-wide emissions trading system) will not only lead to a permanently higher price trend for fossil fuels (oil/gas heating, fuels) but also costs for electricity generation. Overall, this weakens the widespread argument to view energy price increases as temporary. [more]
It is, once again, the season of the year when not only are we preparing for Christmas holidays and starting to think about new year resolutions, but economic forecasters are also offering their outlooks for the upcoming year. However, the last two years should have convinced even the most stubborn hedgehog that there is far less predictability, let alone certainty, around us than we like to believe. In particular, problems resulting from “system complexity” are, in our view, not sufficiently appreciated by forecasters and the recipients of these forecasts, alike. The critical assumptions, nota bene assumptions not predictions, driving – to a large extent – GDP and inflation forecasts for the next one or two years, are the future development of the COVID-19 pandemic and the – hoped for – gradual easing of supply bottlenecks, both almost textbook examples of system complexity. So are, probably, the Philips curve models used to forecast inflation. Let’s face it, believing in inflation forecasts with exact numbers, even behind the decimal point, for several years out, is little different to believing in Santa Claus. [more]
Quantum 2.0 super technologies will massively change the way we live and work. Quantum has the potential to shape a new economic era. The vision of Quantum 2.0 is that processing power of quantum computing could skyrocket which allows the development of previously technologically unfeasible products and technologies such as an ultra-high performance secure quantum internet. Real-time quantum applications and quantum AI might organize our daily lives. It could also open the door to a new kind of science with novel materials and products in probably every field from medicine to chemistry and physics. As a consequence of these developments, the number of new goods and services may explode. This potential revolution leads to new economic and social questions which we tackle in this publication. It also provides an overview about developments in quantum computing and quantum software. [more]
4% GDP growth in 2022, despite technical recession in winter half. A synchronous acceleration should result in annual GDP growth of 4%. In 2023, quarterly GDP growth will slow towards trend. In fiscal policy ambitious spending plans and debt brake commitment lead to open funding questions. Based on the previous fiscal regime, the fiscal deficit is set to narrow considerably. Still, the new government’s big spending plans, which are not yet quantifiable, could drive deficits considerably higher. Inflation decelerating from 5%+ rates, but higher core rate more permanent. Carryover effects and cost pressures will keep CPI inflation elevated. In 2023, headline and core rates are unlikely to fall below 2%. German politics 2022: “Team Scholz” will focus on climate protection and sizeable corporate tax allowances for green and digital investments. German EU policy might be less fiscal orthodox and open to a cautious reform of the EU’s fiscal rules. [more]
In the face of rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates causing regional bottlenecks in intensive care units, the current caretaker federal government and heads of federal states agreed on further restrictions yesterday. From now on, the hospitalisation ratio in federal states will be the new single most important indicator to watch. It measures how many COVID-19 patients per 100,000 people have been hospitalised during the last 7 days. As soon as certain thresholds are exceeded, new restrictions will come into effect. In this Germany Blog, we explain the new thresholds and measures in detail and provide an economic assessment to illustrate the impact. [more]
Another "COVID winter". GDP growth failed to accelerate further in Q3, as the supply shortages provided an increasing drag on industrial output. The supply chain issues will prevail throughout the winter half and only taper off very gradually during 2022. While private consumption was the growth engine in summer, the recent strong increase in the number of new COVID-19 infections will slow consumer spending during winter. Absent Q3 details we now expect GDP to stagnate in the winter half, but acknowledge the increasing risks of negative quarters. Given the upward revisions to H1 (published with the Q3 GDP flash) this would still result in an average growth rate of 2.5% yoy for 2021. Further upside surprises at all stages of inflation have, despite an increasing tightness in the labour market, not (yet) started a price-wage spiral. Also in this issue: The next German government is in the making. [more]
During the coming years, Germany’s potential growth rate will come under increasing pressure from demographic developments, it looks set to slow to just below ¾%. Shrinking potential growth will dampen cyclical resilience and tend to reduce debt sustainability. The new government should focus even more on potential growth. After all, it would be the great binding theme between the efficient and at the same time climate-friendly economy, demographics and the megatrend of digitalization. In the short term, rising energy expenses and the regulatory shortening of the useful life of machinery and equipment have a similar effect to a negative supply shock. If efforts to seize the opportunity for new investment and the installation of adequate replacements fail, the production-relevant capital stock would shrink, thus reducing potential growth. [more]
Never since reunification have industrial companies in Germany complained as much about material bottlenecks as they do at present. In addition to physical shortages of intermediate products, rising prices are also currently problematic for companies. This is reflected in producer prices. In August 2021, they were around 12% higher than a year earlier – the biggest increase since December 1974. The latest development is not a German phenomenon. In many countries around the world, the current economic recovery is being dampened by supply bottlenecks and higher prices. Supply bottlenecks and rising prices for intermediate goods are hampering the economic recovery in the manufacturing sector. Here, new orders in August 2021 exceeded the production level by close to 22%. Overall, we expect supply chain disruptions to keep us busy into 2022, although the low point in the supply crisis may be behind us. [more]
In terms of housing policy concepts in Germany, there are only minor overlaps between the plans of left-wing and right-wing parties. The CDU/CSU, the FDP, and the AfD continue to support supply-oriented housing policies. The SPD, the Greens, and the Left prefer demand-oriented approaches. The CDU and the FDP promise to reduce price and rent pressure by providing additional supply and to offer incentives for renovation and retrofitting. People who are living in a rented home and do not want to move will probably find the plans of the SPD, the Left or the Greens attractive. Private households might see the ancillary costs of buying a home decline after the elections, as opposed to large-scale investors. Overall, none of the parties has prepared a comprehensive concept. And none of them has paid attention to what their demands may mean in terms of necessary labour, funds, space, etc. [more]
Due to the continuing shortage of semiconductors, 2021 will be another weak year for Germany as an automotive location. Although the current economic and supply crisis may have reached its low point, a return to earlier highs is unlikely – even in the medium term. By contrast, German auto manufacturers are reporting positive results and gaining share in important markets. The discrepancy between Germany as an automotive location and the German auto industry is becoming apparent. [more]
The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, ambitious climate policies, persistently negative interest rates, and large-scale security purchases by the ECB are increasingly raising the issue of a fair distribution. Policymakers tend to focus on the symptoms in order to appease their voters – and in doing so, they often neglect the root causes. [more]