Business Cycle Update Summer 2007: German Upswing Still Healthy
In the summer of 2007, the economies of the European Union and Japan continue their upswing, while the USA is still suffering from economic weakness. The expansion of the East Asian economies remains highly dynamic. Compared to the beginning of the year, conditions at the global financial markets have deteriorated slightly: Long-term interest rates have risen considerably; with notably more than half of a percentage point the increase was especially pronounced in the Euro Area. Furthermore, markets have become increasingly volatile. The less favourable conditions at the global financial markets, among other reasons, will cause the upswing in the Euro Area and Japan to slightly slow down. While the USA will not enter a phase of stagnation, the economy will continue to expand at rates below its potential until 2008. In Germany, the economic recovery took a temporary break in the first half of 2007. While special circumstances (first, brought forward purchases in anticipation of the increase in the value added tax and second, the high construction activity because of the end of home owners subsidies) raised considerably economic activity towards the end of 2006, they caused a downturn in demand in the beginning of 2007. After this short dip, the upswing will recommence. Private consumption will be the main driving force, as incomes have increased considerably in the wake of the improved labour markets conditions. The upswing will continue next year, albeit at a slower pace. Higher interest rates, the appreciation of the Euro and the expected rise in labour costs will have some impact. Overall domestic demand will slow down, but only a little, as household consumption increases. GDP will expand by 2.6% and 2.5% in this and next year, respectively. The number of unemployed persons will decline below 3.5 million in 2008.