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Germany Monitor

In the "Germany Monitor" series we address political and structural issues which have great significance for Germany. These include commentaries on elections and political decisions, as well as technology and industry issues, and macro-economic topics which go beyond the business cycle matters addressed in "Focus Germany".

102 (21-30)
August 28, 2017
Region:
Since 2010, the German government’s tax revenues have gone up by one third to EUR 706 bn. On the face of it, Germany is a low-tax country, with a tax-to-GDP rate of 22.9%. The picture is misleading, however, because the German welfare state is largely funded by additional taxes, i.e. social security contributions. The overall tax burden on German citizens is higher than the OECD average and the tax structure in Germany is unfavourable. It would appear to make sense to flatten out the steep trajectory of rising marginal income tax rates for people in the lower and mid-range earnings brackets. Germany’s political parties are pledging to reform income tax in order to appeal to median voters and their core support. Overall, the amount by which the burden on taxpayers would be eased varies substantially across the parties. [more]
21
August 22, 2017
Region:
Analyst:
In Germany, the number of successful technology start-ups with a novel product is lagging behind in an international context. Considering the key role of start-ups in innovative entrepreneurship and their contribution to the real economy, reasons and key points of action to increase start-up activity should be identified. Excessive red-tape is a major hindrance and mainstream political parties are aiming to reduce excessive bureaucracy in start-up creation. Improved access to bank lending and venture capital investments are necessary to broaden post-launch funding alternatives. Brexit could be boon especially for the start-up scene in Berlin if relocation formalities are lowered. Enhancing a “can-do” culture and taking entrepreneurship among immigrants into account in policymaking have paramount importance, too. The Nordic start-up ecosystem provides important takeaways to boost start-up creation. [more]
22
August 8, 2017
Region:
Defence policy and defence expenditures have moved into the light of public attention ahead of September parliamentary elections, fuelled by US criticism of Europe’s NATO spending, the experience of the refugee crisis but also regained momentum for European integration. While NATO membership and EU defence integration is supported by the German public, a majority rejects an increase in the military budget. To reach NATO’s 2% of GDP target by 2024, defence expenditures would have to more than double within seven years. Mainstream parties agree that a more holistic security framework is required but they are divided on the details, in particular when it comes to the question on how much to spend for it. [more]
23
August 3, 2017
Region:
The benign economic and public environment allows to fundamentally address shortcomings of the E(M)U. The next German government’s term is faced with numerous challenges ranging from Brexit and its impact on the next EU Budget to migration and the upgrade of the euro area. A revitalised relation with France provides the opportunity for substantive steps to further stabilise the euro area albeit Germany and France need to find common ground on many issues and seek the support of EU partners. European politics is still less of a topic for the German electorate not least as mainstream parties are all various shades of pro-European. However, the next government’s party composition is likely to matter for both speed and scope of changes on European level. [more]
24
July 19, 2017
Region:
In an international comparison, Germany’s fiscal situation is very good – thanks to robust GDP growth and zero interest rates. In the short to medium term, dynamic revenue growth should help to ensure that Germany’s fiscal situation remains comfortable, even though expenses look set to rise strongly as well. Public finances are currently benefiting from buoyant growth, low interest rates and a “demographic respite”. Rising interest rates and the ageing society look set to put the public finances under considerable pressure from the middle of the coming decade. However, the long-term fiscal risks do not appear to play a major role in the current election campaign. [more]
25
July 17, 2017
Region:
The debate over welfare policy in Germany appears to be paradoxical. Albeit steadily rising social spending, some critics believe that there is a social imbalance. But social security continues to have a positive impact while the welfare system is benefiting from the positive economic development. A further expansion of the welfare state is in the cards given not only the demographic trend but also the parties’ proposals in the current election campaigns. Sustainability of the welfare system is playing second fiddle only despite the fact that already taxpayers are burdened with avoidable costs. [more]
26
July 3, 2017
Region:
Analyst:
The traditional automobile industry and companies that, in the past, had no involvement in the sector, are working hard to create software solutions, driver assistance systems and other technologies that will make networked, autonomous, traffic jam and accident-free driving possible. That means the “digital car” in its ideal form is no longer a utopian vision for the future, but is instead gradually taking shape. However, the path to the digital car will be more of an evolution than a revolution. That is the result of factors on both the supply and demand side. They include the considerable development times in the industry and the longevity of its products, cars. Consumer preferences, which have been shaped over decades, are also unlikely to change over night. It will take several decades for digital cars to make up a significant proportion of cars on the road – that is unlikely to happen before 2040. [more]
27
July 3, 2017
Region:
The developed industrial countries have experienced a steady decline in trend growth since the mid-70s – and Germany is no exception. The robust cyclical upswing is veiling this creeping erosion of growth. The demographic developments will considerably weigh on trend growth in the medium and the longer term. They will dampen labour supply, capital formation and total factor productivity. By 2025, trend growth looks set to halve again, to only ¾%. The electoral programmes of the established parties incorporate different positions on this key issue, as is to be expected. [more]
28
January 13, 2017
Region:
Munich remains the most dynamic German city when it comes to property, with its fast-rising population and historically low vacancy rate likely to lead to further price increases for many years to come. Further price rises are also expected in Berlin, although the main factors at play here are the very buoyant labour market and the fact that prices and rents are still relatively low for a European capital city. Of the German cities that were analysed for this report, Frankfurt has shown the lowest increase in prices in the current cycle. However, we are now seeing a Brexit effect, which is driving up prices for family homes in particular. Sluggish rent growth and a high level of construction activity are the most striking trends in Hamburg, which could make the city more sensitive to interest rate movements than other urban centres. The situation is similar in Düsseldorf, where the vacancy rate in the current cycle is relatively high for a large German city. For every city analysed here and for the overall German housing market we anticipate further price increases in the coming years. All the macroeconomic conditions that might signal an end to the cycle – such as a turnaround in interest rate policy, a massive expansion of supply and/or a slowdown in migration to Germany – are not yet fulfilled and it is likely to be several years before they materialise. Consequently, we expect rents and property prices in the major German cities and across the country to continue to rise sharply in 2017. [more]
30
2.8.0