German Economy Drawn into the World Recession

In spring 2009, the world economy is in a deep recession. The intensification of the financial crisis in autumn has caused a sharp contraction of demand. The reaction of monetary and fiscal policy was substantial, but up to now (April 2009), it has not succeeded in restoring confidence of economic agents. Although some leading indicators point to a stabilization of production in the coming quarters, the downturn will not come to an end before next winter, because the financial crisis will continue to put strain on the real economy for some time to come. The German economy is in its deepest recession since the foundation of the Federal Republic. Germany is particularly affected, because at the core of the economy is the production of those goods for that world demand has collapsed most: capital goods and high-quality consumer durables. While exports and private investment activity will continue to shrink this year (albeit at a slower rate), private consumption will be a stabilizing factor for some time, as will public investment activity in the second half of the year. Later in 2009 and in 2010, rising unemployment will depress consumption, while in this forecast, it is assumed that exports and investment slowly recover in 2010, because the financial turmoil will calm down. For economic policy, a recapitalization of the banking sector should have priority. The ECB should lower its key interest rate to 0.5%. Given the sharply increasing fiscal deficits, a new, third fiscal program would be counterproductive. Only if monetary policy fails to stabilize the economy, further fiscal measures, coordinated at a European level, should be considered.

12. June 2009

Authors ifo Institut München IfW Kiel IWH RWI Essen

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