1. Research
  2. Products & Topics
  3. Special
  4. Thematic

Cyclical vs structural: observing the unobservable

October 31, 2018
Region:
The workhorse framework of macroeconomics and monetary policy relies on the build-up of inflationary pressures across the cycle as the economy tightens, and firms have no choice but to raise wages, which ultimately lifts consumer prices. Within that narrative, the estimation of slack in the economy – the output gap – is crucial to monetary policy authorities. A positive output gap means that the economy is away from its long-term steady-state equilibrium, and unsustainable cost pressures are building up. Currently, the OECD / IMF / European Commission estimate of the output gap in the euro-area is slightly positive and reaching close to 1% by the end of next year. [more]

52 (49-52)
December 16, 2013
Region:
49
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]
December 12, 2013
Region:
50
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]
November 26, 2013
Region:
51
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]
November 4, 2013
Region:
52
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]
2.1.5