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Case for higher investment in infrastructure – despite questionable ”gap analysis”

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]

63 (61-63)
December 12, 2013
Region:
61
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:
62
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:
63
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]
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