IWH Economic Outlook 2021

New Wave of Infections Delays Economic Recovery in Germany

December 16, 2020


The lockdown is causing production in Germany to decline at the end of the year. When restrictions will be relaxed again, the recovery is likely to pick up pace only slowly, partly because the temporary reduction in value-added taxes is expiring. In spring, milder temperatures and an increasing portion of the population being vaccinated are likely to support the German economy to expand more strongly. The Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) forecasts that gross domestic product will increase by 4.4% in 2021, following a 5% decline in 2020. In East Germany, both the decline and the recovery will be significantly less pronounced.

According to the IWH’s medium-term projection, Germany's gross domestic product will grow more slowly between 2020 and 2025 than before, not only because of the pandemic crisis, but also because the work force will decline. The resulting structural public deficits are, if the legal framework remains unchanged, likely to be higher than the debt brake allows. Consolidation measures, especially if they relate to government revenues, entail economic losses in the short term. “There is much to be said, also from a theoretical point of view, for not abolishing the debt brake, but for relaxing it to some extent,” says Oliver Holtemöller, head of the Department of Macroeconomics and vice president at IWH.

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