Tentative Recovery, Public Debt on the Rise

In autumn 2009, the world economy appears to be growing again. The situation has improved mainly because drastic measures of central banks and governments stabilized the financial sector. More recently, the real economy is supported by fiscal programs taking effect. However, recoveries are usually slow if, as it is the case now, recessions have been intertwined with banking and housing crises. Thus, the industrial economies will not gain much dynamics this year and next, while chances for an upswing in emerging economies are much better. The German economy stabilized during summer as well, with remarkably robust private consumption. An upswing, however, is, due to several factors, not in sight: Some important export markets will not rebound quickly, and consumption will be dampened by rising unemployment that, up to now, has been contained, not least with the aid of short-term working schemes. All in all, production shrinks by 5% in 2009 and will increase by no more than 1.2% next year. Public deficits are on the rise, with (in relation to GDP) 3.2% this year and 5.2% in 2010. A credit crunch due to deteriorating balance sheets of banks is a major risk for the German economy. Policy should address this problem by making sure that equity ratios are sufficiently high. One way would be to impose public capital on banks that do not comply with certain regulatory ratios. These should be higher than the ones presently in force. Fiscal policy should begin consolidating in 2011, mainly by dampening the rise of expenditures. Tax cuts are only justified if they are accompanied by very ambitious spending cuts.

23. November 2009

Authors ifo Institut München IfW Kiel IWH RWI Essen

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