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Thematic

Overview of thematic research

39 (31-39)
May 28, 2015
Region:
Politicians should focus on an expansion of building activity in the major cities and conurbations in order to reduce the upside pressure on house prices. In the past few months there have been indications of easing activity in the construction sector. If this trend materialises, the pressure on house prices will intensify further. One possible cause of this development is capacity restrictions, and a lack of suitable skilled labour in the finishing trades in particular. An immigration law that specifically focuses on bottlenecks in the labour market could help to bring about some relief. If it becomes obvious over the next few months that construction growth is going to remain sluggish long term, rent control should not be implemented in the regions. [more]
31
December 5, 2014
Region:
Analyst:
Germany is constantly being accused of investing too little. Critics say this hurts Germany itself as well as other countries. This assertion enjoys broad support among (high-profile) economic researchers, international institutions such as the IMF and many lobbyists from the German business community. They see the extra public investment requirements running to 3% of GDP (per year!), with the going buzzword being the "investment gap". The government, in particular, has been called upon to significantly boost its investments in infrastructure. Even the disappointing GDP figures and lowered growth expectations of the past few months are now also being used to justify demands for a rapid increase in (public) investment. Hopes of growth stimuli for the neighbouring countries of Europe are playing a key role in many of these demands – especially at the high end of the demand scale. [more]
32
July 28, 2014
Region:
Germany has become the No. 1 destination country for migrants in Europe again and No. 2 in the whole OECD after the United States. The turnaround reflects the crisis in the EMU periphery as well as the (postponed) opening of the German labour market to citizens from the 10 Central and Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007. The higher immigration should only temporarily obscure the negative effects from the introduction of a minimum wage and the retirement wave triggered by the "pension at 63" option. Given the economic recovery in the eurozone periphery the present migration surge is unlikely to last and ageing Germany’s demand for labour from outside the EU will increase. Therefore, Germany needs to shape up to encourage more pull-based immigration. This requires a skills-oriented migration policy as well as more flexibility in the labour market and at the company level. [more]
33
May 16, 2014
So far the West has chosen a reluctant approach in its attempt to contain Russia’s encroachment in Ukraine, refraining from economically or financially meaningful sanctions. The Ukraine crisis and further sanctions will not be inconsequential for the profile of the European recovery, but when looking at the distribution of costs, it seems that the West can afford to be tough towards Moscow. Obviously, the economic cost would be higher if Russian supply of energy to the West was jeopardized, but this would come at a very high price for Russia itself. [more]
34
February 24, 2014
Region:
With the New Year came a new Hollande pledging to build a New France. Still, most of the announcements made in January by the French President merely confirmed a prudent policy inflexion which started last year. Hollande is counting on the solemnity of the speech, putting economic reforms more firmly on the French political agenda. But the reforms are likely to be slow, and the transition will be costly in terms of growth. This will weaken France's reserves of political energy for European reform for many years. Actually, the structural hurdles to reform are more firmly entrenched in France than in Germany 10 years ago. Thus the adjustment is likely to be slower to yield any meaningful results on potential growth than in the German experience and a meaningful structural re-convergence of the two countries will be slow. [more]
35
December 16, 2013
Region:
The approval of the coalition negotiations by the SPD’s membership has finally paved the way for a grand coalition. In our view, the agreement that is to be implemented over the coming years will take Germany in the wrong direction and will reduce trend growth in two broad ways: through the partial reversal of the successful Hartz reforms, as well as through increasing the fiscal sustainability gap through pension-system give-aways. Instead of making Germany a more competitive location for business and preparing its society for the demographic challenges ahead, the coalition is on course to implement policies that will be seen as errors in the years ahead. Increased federal spending on education, research and development is not accompanied by cuts in less useful policy interventions. European policy remains caught in a catch-22 between a tangled mass of over-complex regulation and the lack of willingness – not only in Germany – to rapidly pursue a political union. [more]
36
December 12, 2013
Region:
International criticism of Germany’s current account surpluses has reached new heights. The persistent surpluses are often seen as worsening, if not causing, the European crisis by impairing the peripherals’ capacity to export. Still, even taken individually, most arguments put forward do not hold water. As there is little evidence that Germany is manipulating relevant parameters, one should accept that the surpluses are the result of individual decisions of largely private agents in Germany and abroad. Politicians and commentators may be unhappy with the result, but they should not blame Germany. Rather, they ought to insist that the peripheral countries continue to improve their own competitiveness. Higher minimum wages and rising social security contributions will be a burden for the domestic economy in the medium term and hence weigh on import growth. [more]
37
November 26, 2013
Region:
The expansion of renewables, while a worthy long-term goal, is presently jeopardising German competitiveness. To prevent this, the Energiewende – i.e. energy turnaround or transformation – must be implemented more efficiently. We welcome government plans to impose a minimum levy on new systems for captive generation. To ensure the levy doesn’t also rise unsustainably, the subsidies should gradually be phased into market-based price and volume mechanisms. The government should tighten exceptions to the levy, while continuing to shield the energy-intensive companies most vulnerable to international competition. [more]
38
November 4, 2013
Region:
The current negotiations between CDU/CSU and SPD towards forming a government point to the implementation, for the first time, of a country-wide minimum wage of EUR 8.50 per hour. Empirical evidence suggests that the effect of a minimum wage is particularly toxic when it is brought to a level that is close to the median wage. This would mean higher wages for about 6 m workers (17% of all workers). A minimum wage will certainly impair the employment chances of groups which already have distinctively higher unemployment rates. If society or politicians do not want to accept the distributional effects of the market, this should be dealt with via taxation and transfers and not by interfering with wage setting. [more]
39
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