Vigorous upswing continues
Wirtschaft im Wandel,
The worldwide upswing has gained momentum since last autumn. The main cause for the high growth dynamics is a monetary policy that is very expansive not only in advanced economies, where the utilization rates for production capacities are mostly still low, but also in emerging market economies that in general have already recovered from the Great Recession.
The German economy participates in the worldwide upswing. Here the recovery is ahead of those in most other advanced economies. Both exports and domestic demand are strongly expanding. One reason for the high growth dynamics is that key interest rates are particularly low for Germany, as the ECB has to take into account that many euro area economies are much more fragile. In addition, Germany still benefits from the wage moderation and the labour market reforms in the past decade: employment is expanding strongly, and firms find many profitable investment projects.
Major risks for this forecast are structural problems of some advanced economies that had become visible during the Great Recession and are still unresolved (concerning the US housing market and the crisis of confidence in the fiscal sustainability of some euro area countries in particular). A further risk is the possibility of further oil price hikes due to political instability in North Africa and the Middle East.
Midterm Projection: Economic Development and the Public Budget in the Years 2011 - 2015
Wirtschaft im Wandel,
In 2010 economic activity in Germany improved steadily. While global trade increased in the first half of the year – and, thus, German exports – domestic demand became increasingly important. Private Investment recovered and – even more important – consumption contributed to economic growth. Moreover, employment reached an all-time high and unemployment decreased further during the year.
Until 2015 economic growth will keep to be relatively high. German external trade will still gain momentum by the development of global trade. However, economic development will be driven more and more by domestic demand. Interest rates will remain relatively low and stimulate investment activity. Moreover, unemployment will continually shrink, partly reflecting demographic developments, but partly mirrored in increasing employment. Due to a higher degree of employment security and rising wages consumption will gain momentum. Real GDP will increase by 2.3% in 2011 and by 1.7% in 2012. From 2013 – 2015 it will rise by 1½% on average.
While the German economy will gain strength, public budgets will clearly improve. In 2010 the deficit ratio exceeds the Maastricht threshold only slightly; in relation to nominal GDP the German budget deficit was about 3.2%. Concerning the high fiscal stimulus, mainly given in the years 2009 and 2010, the deficit ratio is surprisingly low. While income and wage taxes as well as the receipts from social security contributions already increased, unemployment benefits already declined substantially.
The midterm projection shows a favorable development of public budgets. While employment remains high and unemployment continually decreases, the wage tax and the social security contributions will boost revenue. On contrast the same development will lessen public expenditure, especially transfers.
This projection relies heavily on the assumption that fiscal policy will trace its consolidation plans. For instance, it is assumed that the federal level will implement their plans from summer/autumn 2010 and that there will be no additional measures. In this case, in 2015 the German public budget will show a surplus of ¼% in relation to GDP.
German Economy Recovers Surprisingly Quickly from Last Year’s Recession
Wirtschaft im Wandel,
The German economy recovers surprisingly quickly from last year’s recession. For this year, we expect GDP to grow by 3.5%. Next year, when GDP growth should reach a rate of 2%, the general government deficit is likely to fall below the 3% mark of the Stability and Growth pact – if the government indeed realizes the stabilization program it decided on this summer. Unemployment will continue to decline.
We see three main causes for this favorable development: first, the German economy benefits strongly from the high growth dynamics in emerging markets, since German firms are well positioned for producing investment goods that are particularly sought-after in these countries. Second, growing demand for labor in Germany means that employment and labor income is on the rise. Partly, this is the reward for a long time of low wage rises that have made labor in Germany competitive again. Third, the expansive monetary policy in the euro area is particularly stimulating since here debt levels of private households and firms are moderate and therefore do not dampen the stimulating effects of low interest rates, as they do in many euro area partner countries with highly indebted private and public agents.
Concerning the development of the debt level of the New Länder since the German unification
Wirtschaft im Wandel,
20 Jahre Deutsche Einheit - Teil 2 -
During the 1990s, public indebtedness rose remarkably in all German political subdivisions. This development was particularly strong in the New Länder. At the beginning of the 1990s, they had low indebtedness rates. Today, 20 years later, the debt level of some New Länder lies over the average value of all Federal states. The background of this development is complex and depends also on the individual situation of each state. Generally, the rise of the debt level of the New Länder can be attributed to the 1990s’ estimation of a fast adjustment of the New Länder’s economic and financial power to that of the old Federal states. From today's point of view, this estimation was too optimistic. Furthermore, the New Länder have been affected differently by the transformation-conditioned structural change and the therefore arising difficulties with the necessary adjustment to the market.
In Saxony-Anhalt, which is characterised by the highest debt level of the New Länder, the collapse of the basic industry has led to high regional unemployment and to a substantial migration of the population. Still Saxony-Anhalt has countrywide the largest negative migration balance.
Regardless of these state-specific characteristics of the transformation process, there is a gradual change in the attitude towards existing debts and their handling, starting around the year 2000. So, the interest in budget consolidation increases constantly. This development was supported by the economic boom of the years 2006 and 2007. At present, the economic crisis puts the consolidation efforts of the states to the test.
The relationship between unemployment and output in post-communist countries
Unemployment is still disappointingly high in most Central and East European countries, and might be a reflection of the ongoing adjustment to institutional shocks resulting from systemic transition, or it may be caused by high labour market rigidity, or aggregate demand that is too weak. In this paper we have investigated the dynamics of unemployment and output in those eight post-communist countries, which entered the EU in 2004. We used a model related to Okun’s Law; i.e. the first differences in unemployment rates were regressed on GDP growth rates. We estimated country and panel regressions with instrument variables (TSLS) and applied a few tests to the data and regression results. We assume transition of labour markets to be accomplished when a robust relationship exists between unemployment rate changes and GDP growth. Moreover, the estimated coefficients contain information about labour market rigidity and unemployment thresholds of output growth. Our results suggest that the transition of labour markets can be regarded as completed since unemployment responds to output changes and not to a changing institutional environment that destroys jobs in the state sector. The regression coefficients have demonstrated that a high trend rate of productivity and a high unemployment intensity of output growth have been occurring since 1998. Therefore, we conclude that labour market rigidities do not play an important role in explaining high unemployment rates. However, GDP growth is dominated by productivity progress and the employment-relevant component of aggregate demand is too low to reduce the high level of unemployment substantially.
Determinants of employment - the macroeconomic view
Schriften des IWH,
The weak performance of the German labour market over the past years has led to a significant unemployment problem. Currently, on average 4.5 mio. people are without a job contract, and a large part of them are long-term unemployed. A longer period of unemployment reduces their employability and aggravates the problem of social exclusion.
The factors driving the evolution of employment have been recently discussed on the workshop Determinanten der Beschäftigung – die makroökonomische Sicht organized jointly by the IAB, Nuremberg, and the IWH, Halle. The present volume contains the papers and proceedings to the policy oriented workshop held in November 2004, 15-16th. The main focus of the contributions is twofold. First, macroeconomic conditions to stimulate output and employment are considered. Second, the impacts of the increasing tax wedge between labour costs and the take home pay are emphasized. In particular, the role of the contributions to the social security system is investigated.
In his introductory address, Ulrich Walwei (IAB) links the unemployment experience to the modest path of economic growth in Germany. In addition, the low employment intensity of GDP growth and the temporary standstill of the convergence process of the East German economy have contributed to the weak labour market performance. In his analysis, Gebhard Flaig (ifo Institute, München) stresses the importance of relative factor price developments. A higher rate of wage growth leads to a decrease of the employment intensity of production, and correspondingly to an increase of the threshold of employment. Christian Dreger (IWH) discusses the relevance of labour market institutions like employment protection legislation and the structure of the wage bargaining process on the labour market outcome. Compared to the current setting, policies should try to introduce more flexibility in labour markets to improve the employment record. The impact of interest rate shocks on production is examined by the paper of Boris Hofmann (Deutsche Bundesbank, Frankfurt). According to the empirical evidence, monetary policy cannot explain the modest economic performance in Germany. György Barabas and Roland Döhrn (RWI Essen) have simulated the effects of a world trade shock on output and employment. The relationships have been fairly stable over the past years, even in light of the increasing globalization. Income and employment effects of the German tax reform in 2000 are discussed by Peter Haan and Viktor Steiner (DIW Berlin). On the base of a microsimulation model, household gains are determined. Also, a positive relationship between wages and labour supply can be established. Michael Feil und Gerd Zika (IAB) have examined the employment effects of a reduction of the contribution rates to the social security system. To obtain robust results, the analysis is done under alternative financing scenarios and with different macroeconometric models. The impacts of allowances of social security contributions on the incentives to work are discussed by Wolfgang Meister and Wolfgang Ochel (ifo München). According to their study, willingness to work is expected to increase especially at the lower end of the income distribution. The implied loss of contributions could be financed by higher taxes.