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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".

99 (41-50)
May 27, 2015
The period up to 2025 offers the German steel industry good prospects for a stable and economically sound future. However, this requires policymakers to take a reasonable approach to the further development of the regulatory framework for steel producers and their customer industries in Germany just as it requires only a modest level of expansion in steel capacity at global level. There are also other conceivable scenarios with greater risks, challenges and consequences for the German steel industry and its employees – and these alternatives are in no way completely improbable. [more]
May 26, 2015
At sectoral level, the positive effects of the euro's current weakness are clearly outweighing its drawbacks. Capital equipment manufacturers are benefiting the most from the increasing price competitiveness offered by Germany as a business location. In 2014, the automotive industry generated 45.5% of its total revenue from non-EMU countries, while the proportion for the mechanical engineering sector was almost 43%. Parts of the electrical engineering, chemicals and pharmaceutical industries are also especially benefiting from the recent devaluation in the euro. [more]
April 9, 2015
Biotechnology is one of the key technologies for securing Germany's position as a manufacturing location. While biotechnology research in Germany is being conducted at the leading edge and grants make it easier to set up a biotech firm, young companies often encounter funding bottlenecks when the start-up financing phase comes to an end. One indicator of how grave the funding situation is in Germany is that the average amount of venture capital available to a company is around four times as high in the US as it is in Germany. This funding gap could jeopardise Germany's high-tech strategy objective of beefing up key technologies in the domestic market. [more]
March 9, 2015
While the German economy is generally getting a growth boost from the slump in oil prices, the oil-producing countries are seeing their economic prospects deteriorate. This could bring pressure to bear on German goods exports to these countries, which totalled no less than EUR 73 bn in 2014 (export share: 6.4%), and trigger a 10-15% nominal decrease in 2015. The sectors in Germany that have particularly benefited so far from the oil producers' "petrodollar recycling" include mechanical engineering and other transport equipment (mainly aircraft). In these cases, both the export ratios and the shares of the oil countries in total sector exports are above average. [more]
January 9, 2015
Germany's service sectors have shown themselves to be keener to invest than industry in recent years. The net fixed assets held by the service sectors grew by almost 28% in real terms between 1995 and 2012, although their growth rate has slowed over time. By contrast, the capital stock in the industrial sectors has shrunk by 1.6% in real terms. While, on the one hand, politicians in Germany have been expressing regret or even voicing criticism over the country's current lack of capital spending, on the other they have recently introduced measures (such as their policies on pensions and labour markets) that are hampering investment in Germany rather than stimulating it; this approach is inconsistent. [more]
December 19, 2014
The financial crisis has led to substantial reforms of the system of financial regulation and supervision in Europe – not limited to but including deposit guarantee schemes (DGSs), which play a key role in consumer protection and financial stability. The most recent DGS reform follows a gradual approach, i.e. focuses on adapting existing national systems rather than replacing them. Nevertheless, new rules for bank resolution and the emerging Banking Union are considerably changing the environment DGSs operate in. Given the complexity of the new setup, cooperation between the different players in the financial safety net – including DGSs – is indispensable. [more]
December 15, 2014
The integration of road transport into the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) using an upstream approach (with refineries and fuel importers as participants) is superior to the instrument of CO2 limit values for cars on the counts of ecological effectiveness and macroeconomic efficiency. This applies in particular if a cap on CO2 emissions enjoys top political priority. Higher taxes on fuel would also be more appropriate than a further tightening of limit values after 2020/21. Nonetheless, if policymakers should decide that (stricter) CO2 limit values for cars are to remain the instrument of choice after 2021, it would be appropriate to gear them to the (lower) targets in other large auto markets. [more]
November 13, 2014
German engineering firms must prepare to confront several trends over the medium term. The first of these is that a new, bipolar world of engineering markets is emerging. The United States and (once again) China are set to become especially promising centres of growth going forward. Further future trends are, secondly, the gradual shift in product focus towards customised system solutions; thirdly, the growing importance of not purely price-related competitive factors; and fourthly, the reconfiguration of the global division of labour in the engineering sector as the classic distinction between producer countries focusing on standard machinery and others focusing on speciality equipment becomes increasingly untenable. Provided that traditional suppliers to the manufacturing sector manage to spot the new mega-trends in good time, they will be able to build on these to develop promising strategies that enable them to adapt, survive and – ultimately – grow. [more]
November 11, 2014
In sections of the financial industry there are many web- and data-based financial products and services that customers cannot obtain from either their bank or a similar provider. Non-bank, primarily technology-driven providers are increasingly entering the markets for less knowledge-intensive and easily standardisable financial services. Despite valuable comparative advantages that traditional banks have to offer they need to undergo a radical course of innovation therapy during the digital transformation process. To this end modern data analysis methods should be used just as routinely as a seamlessly integrated web of all distribution channels. Modern technologies and appropriate finance-specific internet services need to be implemented efficiently and above all in a timely manner. Strengthening one's own brand and identity as well as the obligation to handle client data confidentially will also help to deliver a sustained increase in customer satisfaction and loyalty. [more]
October 30, 2014
Following weak performance in winter half-year 2014/15 industrial production in Germany is likely to return to a moderate uptrend in the course of 2015, resulting in expansion of roughly 1.5% in real terms in 2014 and about ¾% in 2015. This means the generally muted dynamics of industrial performance in evidence since 2011 would continue in 2015. Industry's share in total German gross value added (2013: 21.8%) will probably decline again, as in 2012 and 2013. The only moderate growth of industry is primarily attributable to the currently subdued level of business activity and external shocks. Nonetheless, structural factors are going to regain importance. The ball is now in the politicians' court. Many of their recently adopted measures give rise to fears that Germany's international competitiveness as an industrial location is likely to decline. [more]