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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".

75 Documents
December 12, 2017
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Elections, referenda and politics have held quite a few surprises in the last 1 ½ years. While there is a general feeling among voters that things are moving in the wrong direction – although there are certainly differences of opinion about the direction itself – the outcomes of recent elections and polls have probably done very little to counter their disenchantment. One reason for this frustration is the increasing complexity of political issues. They just cannot be resolved using the simple answers offered by many populists. Voters crave such simple answers, however, as throughout evolution humans have been very successful in reducing complexity by applying heuristics, simple rules drawn from experience. [more]
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November 28, 2017
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On November 3, the Dax reached a new record high, at 13,505. It has more than doubled since 2010. However, the commonly used total return index is unsuited for international comparisons. In addition, the Dax which is dominated by manufacturing firms is not representative of the German economy as a whole, which relies much more on the services sector. Despite the recent gains, the German stock market remains underdeveloped. With a market cap of 57% of GDP, Germany continues to rank last among the large European countries. This is not least due to a pension system which hardly involves the capital market, to risk-averse retail investors and to a large share of family-owned companies. [more]
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November 13, 2017
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Employment in Germany has been rising for years now. However, cyclical tailwinds increasingly hide structural problems, such as tighter regulation and demographic developments. If the labour market is not to become a major obstacle to German growth, the future government will need to take quick and decisive action to counteract existing and imminent imbalances on this key market. Reducing long-term unemployment will require a mix of policy measures. The total number of jobs would probably be significantly lower, if there was no low-wage sector. Integrating refugees and the “mismatch” between the qualifications desired by employers and the qualifications which unemployed people actually possess are major challenges. Which direction is the new German government going to take in labour market policy? [more]
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September 19, 2017
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German Bundestag elections 2017: The winner seems to be clear, but not the next government! According to the ARD Deutschland-trend (14.09.) only a renewed Grand Coalition or a coalition between Merkel‘s CDU/CSU, the liberals (FDP) and the Greens (“Jamaica”) would be arithmetically possible. But given tight polls and their typical error margins other alternatives might become available. We are discussing coalition scenarios and their possible implications for Germany’s economic and EU policies as well as financial markets. [more]
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September 12, 2017
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German industrial policy has been cautious over the past few decades, especially in comparison with several other European countries. And this approach has been successful. The German government should continue to refrain from active industrial policy. Nevertheless, we believe that greater state engagement or a realignment of existing policy is vital in some areas. One area where we see a need for action is network infrastructure. When it comes to the shift in German energy policy, it would be sensible to focus more strongly on what is genuinely achievable. [more]
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August 31, 2017
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During the past four years, prices for owner-occupied homes have risen by c. 30% and rents by 15% across Germany. So far, the government’s housing policy has hampered rather than promoted residential construction. A few weeks ahead of the German parliamentary elections we take a look at the housing policies spelled out in the election programmes of the six largest parties. There are several ideas to make it easier for people, in particular families with children, to buy homes. However, additional policy-induced stimulus for demand might push prices upwards, particularly since supply is relatively inelastic. In that case, any electoral gifts would not benefit the families, but only the property sellers. [more]
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August 28, 2017
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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]
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August 22, 2017
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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]
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August 8, 2017
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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]
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August 3, 2017
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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]
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