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Germany

Germany has recovered well from the global financial and euro crisis. To make sure that the future challenges are successfully addressed, a balance between sustainable growth and social participation are essential. To achieve these objectives further reforms are needed as well as an improvement of the macroeconomic framework. Policymakers, businesspeople and the public must face up to their responsibilities. DB Research analyses the economic and political conflicting ideas and incorporates possible solutions into economic and political outlooks. These are based on national sector research, global business cycle and financial forecasts as well as the assessment of international political developments.

212 (51-60)
June 6, 2017
Region:
After Q1’s sturdy 0.6% qoq GDP growth, soft indicators do not signal any moderation of the growth momentum. Employment in 2017 so far, has been expanding at similar clip as in 2016, making our 1% consumption forecast for 2017 quite conservative. Exports have rebounded in the winter half – in line with global trade. The growth momentum of global trade seems to have peaked; therefore, we remain cautious, predicting 3.6% German export growth in 2017 after 2.7% last year. In combination with lingering geo-political uncertainty this will weigh on investment spending, where a utilization rate of 2pp above its long-term average suggests a still limited necessity to invest. Following Q1 GDP growth of 0.6% we have revised our 2017 GDP forecast to 1.3% (1.1%). Latest confidence surveys, however, hint at further upside potential and increasing risks of over-heating for 2018. Political observers in Germany have recently been focusing on the SPD’s ups and downs in the polls and the CDU’s reverse showing while smaller parties are fighting for public attention. From the present point of view (polls) a Jamaica coalition is the sole arithmetically feasible alternative to a renewed grand coalition after the September election. (Further topics: German industrial output – forecast for 2017; Corporate funding in Q1 – lending) [more]
51
May 24, 2017
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Analyst:
The traditional German export sectors pay their employees above-average wages and salaries. The top right-hand quadrant of the chart shows those sectors that generated a foreign trade surplus in 2016 and also paid their employees gross wages and salaries above the average for the manufacturing sector as a whole. In the automotive industry alone, the foreign trade surplus in 2016 was EUR 122 billion (39% of the total surplus). Wages and salaries in this sector were 27% higher than the industry mean. Mechanical engineering took second place in terms of foreign trade surplus (2016: EUR 94 billion). [more]
52
May 19, 2017
Region:
Last Sunday the CDU won the important election in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), defeating the SPD in its major stronghold (33 vs 31.2%). The result indicates an end to the SPD’s upswing following the nomination of Schulz as Chancellor Merkel’s contender, and thus confirms our earlier cautious view on the likely sustainability of this development. [more]
53
April 28, 2017
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Analyst:
The diesel scandal and political uncertainty surrounding future regulation are the main reasons why the proportion of vehicle registrations accounted for by diesel cars has slumped recently in Germany and most other EU countries. If the automotive industry wants to continue to rely on diesel technology, it needs to regain credibility and get to grips with the issue of emissions – including in real-world driving conditions. If it doesn't manage to do this, lawmakers are likely to progressively tighten the regulatory framework for diesel cars. However, should the industry succeed in bringing to market clean diesel cars at affordable prices, these cars would remain the most economical option for a large proportion of motorists – at least until alternative drive technologies become competitive from the customer perspective. This would make current proclamations of the death of diesel somewhat premature. [more]
54
April 6, 2017
Region:
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]
55
March 16, 2017
Region:
Time to enhance (social) justice is the election campaign slogan of the SPD and its leadership candidate, Martin Schulz. To bring this slogan to life the chancellor candidate and the Federal Minister for Labour, Andrea Nahles, recently presented plans for specific labour market policy measures. The duo is proposing that the existing unemployment benefit be extended to include an additional component and that the eligibility criteria be relaxed. The idea of the new benefit Q (for qualification) is to grant registered recipients the right to participate in qualification programmes. It could double the benefit period – for younger jobseekers from one to two years and for those aged 58 and above from two to four years. [more]
56
March 9, 2017
Region:
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]
57
February 14, 2017
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Analyst:
In 2016, electric cars and hybrids represented only 1.8% of all new passenger car registrations in Germany. It therefore remains a niche market – despite the introduction of subsidies last year. The average car buyer steers clear of electric vehicles because of high purchase costs, uncertainty about resale value and battery life, limited range, a lack of charging stations and lengthy charging times. This reluctance to buy presents the automotive industry and the state with a dilemma: strict CO2 limits for new vehicles mean that the industry has to invest heavily in electric-car technology, but it cannot expect an equivalent payback in terms of revenue in the foreseeable future. For the state, it can come down to a straight choice between granting expensive subsidies or failing to reach climate change targets. [more]
58
February 11, 2017
Region:
At a meeting in Munich, the executive committees of the CDU and the CSU have largely demonstrated unanimity and the willingness to close the ranks behind Chancellor Merkel in the imminent election campaign after months of tension over Merkel’s refugee policy. The meeting is meant as the start signal of a joint campaign which aims at keeping Chancellor Merkel in office and preventing a “left republic”, the term the CSU uses to describe a coalition among the SPD, the Left and the Greens. As an anchor for a common campaign a joint election platform shall be launched. The platform is likely to focus on external and internal security, (income) tax reductions, support for families, prosperity and jobs and European policy. The Bavarian CSU, however, will stick to its demand for an upper limit on migration of 200,000 p.a. as a major element of its own complementary platform for Bavaria, weakening the signal of unanimity at a time when the SPD is surging in polls. [more]
59
January 30, 2017
Region:
2016 GDP growth picked up further relative to the previous two years (1.9% vs. 1.7%). Growth was strongly tilted towards consumption thanks to several tailwinds (refugee crisis, low inflation, labour market strength), while slowing exports weighed on private equipment investment: With several tailwinds fading and a strong workday effect weighing, GDP growth looks set to slow to 1.1% in 2017. Recent sentiment indicators herald some upside risks for the current quarter. However, the 2.3 point drop in the expectations component of the January ifo index seems to corroborate our more cautious stance. In an unexpected turn, SPD party leader Gabriel announced that he would not run against Angela Merkel. Instead Martin Schulz, the former president of the European Parliament, will be the party’s frontrunner. Mr. Schulz’s unexpected nomination is likely to push the SPD’s campaign for the federal election on September 24 but unlikely to derail Merkel. [more]
60
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