Talking point
The industrial sector's share in the EU economy is stabilising
Nearly four years ago, the European Commission set its sights on increasing the share of manufacturing in total gross value added from 15.5% at that time to 20% by 2020. This target will probably not be met. After all, in 2015 the share of manufacturing was only around 15.6% and thus scarcely higher than in 2012. However, industry's contribution to EU output has at least stopped decreasing since 2012. Furthermore, industrial gross value added has picked up (slightly) in the EU in recent years in both nominal and real terms. In a few member states, there have been highly contrasting developments in the significance of manufacturing in the economy. It is striking that the industry share in the three large Eastern Europe member states has increased sharply since 2012. Spain and Italy have reported modest gains. Germany has seen its industry share decline slightly in 2015; however, at 22.8% it still far outstrips the EU average. [more]
Germany's massive current account surplus set to decline
EMU’s current account (CA) surplus has lent some support to the euro over the past two years at a time of relentless fixed income outflows. Germany is pivotal, as it accounts for 60% of the surplus. Since the rotation of fixed income assets out of Europe is likely to continue (‘Euroglut’) the balance of payments should therefore become even more bearish for the euro. The German surplus is likely to weaken by about 20% to 7% of GDP by the end of the decade due to unfavourable demographic trends, the housing boom and slowing globalisation. [more]
Focus Germany: ECB helps industry and boosts property prices
There is a high level of excess demand in the housing market and it has grown in recent years. Demand for credit is also growing at a correspondingly rapid pace. The supply of credit could be boosted by further monetary stimulus. In the medium term, more buoyant lending is likely to increase interest rate risk. However, if lending growth remains low, there will be increased risk of overvaluations and a house price bubble. This is particularly true when little new housing is financed and lending is largely for existing property. Given the high level of excess demand in the housing market and the fact that office buildings are being converted to residential buildings, office space is also likely to be in short supply in the coming years. As a result, rents in the office market can be expected to rise more strongly, and could – for a time – outstrip the rise in rents in the housing market. Since Chancellor Merkel assumed office in 2005 her term has been dominated by crisis management, which often required leadership and moderation of differing interests in Europe. Managing the UK’s departure from the EU will have top priority for the time being. Nonetheless, Merkel is likely to focus her attention on domestic topics as much as on European ones in the upcoming months given the looming federal elections in autumn 2017. Also in this issue: Fewer insolvencies in German industry. [more]
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