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Economic and european policy

In this section you find analyses and commentaries on European (and especially German) economic and fiscal policy. Particular attention is devoted to the institutional development of the EU, above all monetary union, and its individual policy areas.

310 (211-220)
September 30, 2014
Region:
The recent positive surprises provided by real economic indicators have for now banished concerns that Germany might slide into recession in Q3. However, the ongoing geopolitical risks and the question marks hanging over the expected cyclical upturn will probably lead to weaker growth in exports and company investment. That is why we have scaled back our growth forecast for the winter half-year 2014/2015. Thus, we have lowered our forecast from 1.8% to 1.5%. In our current issue we also address Germany’s fiscal position, we analyse the consequences of potential Russian gas supply disruptions and we take a look at the investment behaviour of German households. [more]
211
September 26, 2014
Region:
The interest for higher democratic accountability in the EU is stronger than ever. Indeed, there is scope for action for stronger involvement of national legislatures at EU level. Within the time frame of the eighth legislative period of the European Parliament (2014-2019), an interinstitutional agreement is a viable option. This could lay down a working definition of subsidiarity, enhance interparliamentary cooperation, and structure the use of ‘yellow cards’. In the medium term, a stronger role for national parliaments would require outright treaty revision. [more]
212
September 15, 2014
Region:
The future of the British EU membership has become one of the most pressing concerns for the EU. The EU-British relationship has always been one of special character but a number of recent developments have led to a ‘Brexit’ gaining momentum. Only the UK itself will be able to rationalise the domestic debate on EU membership. Economically, Britain and the EU are inextricably linked. Realistic estimates predict losses in the range of 1 to 3% of British GDP in case of a Brexit. Likewise, the Single Market would shrink by 15%. [more]
213
September 2, 2014
Region:
German GDP only 1 ½% in 2014, considerable risks for 2015. We have scaled back our GDP forecast for 2014 from 1.8% to 1 ½%, as we now expect weaker growth in H2. This also reduces our forecast for 2015 from 2.0% to 1.8%. The risks that this still constitutes an overly optimistic forecast have increased significantly. The German investment cycle will likely be more subdued than expected due to the ongoing weakness of world trade and increasing geopolitical strains. Even the hitherto still robust private consumption is emitting its first warning signs. [more]
214
August 27, 2014
Region:
Analyst:
Besides transport and energy infrastructure, communications infrastructure is steadily gaining in importance in the regional competition to attract investment. One source of concern in particular though is the significant gulf in investment both between west German and east German federal states as well as between urban and rural regions. This is compounded by the problem that there is usually no viable business model for projects in rural areas without government subsidies. As there is no such thing as a standard blueprint for the broadband rollout with its huge investment requirements, every single project with its specific local features needs to undergo a critical economic feasibility analysis. On this basis, efforts should be taken to work out the best rollout model in terms of technology, funding and time horizon, respectively. In essence, the broadband rollout in Germany requires more government stimuli to foster private investment, but these efforts need to be coordinated and based on sound judgement. [more]
215
August 4, 2014
Region:
Economic growth probably suffered a worse setback in Q2 than initially presumed. We only expect stagnation now, but would no longer rule out a minimal decline. All in all, global economic conditions do not point to dynamic growth in H2. In particular, the tougher sanctions on Russia and the risk of further escalation of the conflict are set to weigh on business sentiment and investment activity in spite of Russia's low share in German exports. The debate triggered by ECB and Bundesbank comments about higher wage increases in Germany is likely to have a similar impact, even though the substance of the statements is less spectacular, on closer inspection, than the media hype. As uncertainties abound we have decided to refrain for now from making a downward revision to our full-year forecast of 1.8% GDP growth. [more]
216
July 31, 2014
The recently announced plans for a free trade agreement between China and the EU are momentous. China is the EU’s No. 1 supplier of goods and its third-largest export market. In turn, the EU is China’s largest trading partner. Going by current trends, EU-China annual bilateral trade could grow close to 1.5 times in a decade’s time. Not only goods but also services trade has large potential to grow. Chinese investment into the EU is still in its infancy but is likely to increase and become more broad-based, covering a wider range of industries and countries across Europe. New dynamism is expected from a bilateral investment agreement currently in negotiation and rising interest of Chinese investors in European companies, as shown by our compilation of Chinese M&A deals vis-à-vis the EU and Germany. Plenty of headroom exists for greater use of RMB in bilateral trade and investment relations. A note of caution concerns the risk of trade disputes which is unlikely to be removed in the near term. [more]
217
July 28, 2014
Region:
Germany has become the No. 1 destination country for migrants in Europe again and No. 2 in the whole OECD after the United States. The turnaround reflects the crisis in the EMU periphery as well as the (postponed) opening of the German labour market to citizens from the 10 Central and Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007. The higher immigration should only temporarily obscure the negative effects from the introduction of a minimum wage and the retirement wave triggered by the "pension at 63" option. Given the economic recovery in the eurozone periphery the present migration surge is unlikely to last and ageing Germany’s demand for labour from outside the EU will increase. Therefore, Germany needs to shape up to encourage more pull-based immigration. This requires a skills-oriented migration policy as well as more flexibility in the labour market and at the company level. [more]
218
July 25, 2014
Region:
Sub-sovereign bonds are a segment that has attracted little attention to date. Bonds are the dominant form of funding for Germany's Länder, though, and they also play an important role for the regions in Spain. While the Länder benefit from Germany’s excellent sovereign rating, only those Spanish regions not forced to request financial assistance from the central government at the height of the debt crisis have recently been able to obtain financing via the capital market. In France the issuance by the municipalities is likely to increase due to the newly established Agence France Locale. A local authority finance agency is also in the process of being introduced in the United Kingdom. The importance of the sub-sovereign bond market crucially depends on country-specific institutional arrangements. [more]
219
July 14, 2014
Region:
Migration patterns within the eurozone have changed fundamentally. While prior to the crisis many citizens from Central and Eastern European EU countries migrated to Spain and other peripheral countries, the westward migration is now primarily directed to the core. The crisis has also triggered increasing migration from the periphery to the core. Eurozone migration acts as a sensible adjustment mechanism in the labour markets. In Germany it contributes to the reduction of bottlenecks in the market for qualified labour, whereas in the GIPS it functions like a safety value. Migration also fosters growth in the host countries, while the impact on the GIPS is ambiguous. Emigration reduces persistent structural unemployment especially in problem sectors like construction. It also helps to rein in public spending. However, the huge swing in the migration balance, especially in Spain, weighs on domestic demand. Higher remittances would be helpful to mitigate the shock from the outflow of purchasing power. While fears of a brain drain are overstated, lasting migration deficits would accelerate population ageing in the periphery. [more]
220
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