The German Upswing Takes a Break

The world economy continues to expand healthily, but risks have increased during summer. The crisis of the housing sector in the US has deepened: A revaluation of mortgage backed assets has triggered turbulences on global financial markets. The institutes expect that financial markets will calm down during the coming months, but that the downswing in the US will slow the pace of the world economy. The economy in the euro area will, in addition, be dampened by the appreciation of the euro. The German economy is, in spite of a restrictive fiscal policy, in a robust upswing. Because wage setting and inflation continues to be moderate, there will be no need for a restrictive monetary policy. Thus the German economy will, due to slower demand from the US and higher costs of financing, lose momentum, but chances are good that the upswing will only take a break. In the coming year private consumption is expected to be the main contributor to growth, because wage incomes will expand strongly. Unemployment will continue to shrink, albeit at a smaller rate than during 2007. Fiscal policy will no longer be restrictive. Economic policy has improved the conditions for growth in Germany; there is, however, still much to do. Public finances have to be consolidated further, but at the same time, public investment has to be strengthened. This can be achieved if public consumptive expenditure growth is limited. The institutes suggest to increase public expenditure by 2% per annum over the cycle in nominal terms; this is, by less than by the trend growth rate of nominal GDP. The institutes advise against a reversal of the recent labour market reforms. Instead, incentives for taking up jobs should be increased further.

29. October 2007

Authors ifo Institut München IfW Kiel IWH RWI Essen

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