Upswing in East Germany has slowed, but continues – implications of the joint forecast of the German economic research institutes in autumn 2018 and of official data for the Eastern German economy in the first half of 2018

The German institutes forecast a slowdown in the cyclical upswing in Germany. Foreign demand, in particular from other euro area countries, has eased, and capacity constraints make it increasingly difficult for companies to expand production. Both arguments apply to East Germany as well: high vacancy rates indicate that labour may be even scarcer than in the West despite higher unemployment. Moreover, a particularly high proportion of East German exports go to other European countries. Important drivers of growth in the East, however, are still intact: unlike the manufacturing sector, services have been rising a bit faster in recent years in East Germany than in the West. Providers of services benefit from significantly rising disposable incomes of private households, as employment is currently expanding healthily and at only a slightly slower pace than in West Germany, despite poorer demographic conditions. Retirement pensions in East Germany have also been increased considerably.

Authors Oliver Holtemöller

All in all, the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) – Member of the Leibniz Association predicts an increase in East German gross domestic product by 1.5% for the year 2018 (Germany as a whole: 1.7%), after 1.9% in 2017. In 2019, East German production is likely to expand at a slightly different rate (1.7%). The unemployment rate is expected to fall from 7.6% in 2017 to 6.9% in 2018 and 6.6% in 2019 (Germany in 2017: 5.7%, 2018: 5.2 %, 2019: 4.8%).

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Upturn Loses Momentum – World Economic Climate Grows Harsher: Joint Economic Forecast Autumn 2018

Projektgruppe Gemeinschaftsdiagnose

in: Externe Monographien, 2, 2018

Abstract

The economic upturn in Germany is entering its sixth year, but is losing momentum. This is due to both demand and supply side factors. On the one hand, Germany’s key sales markets have weakened in line with the slowdown in world trade. On the other hand, a growing number of companies are apparently facing production-side bottlenecks, especially in terms of labour and sourcing intermediate goods. This overlaps with problems in the automotive industry related to the introduction of the new World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), which has clearly impacted gross domestic product (GDP) growth due to the branch’s economic weight. Adjustment problems, however, should be overcome in the course of the winter half year. Stimuli from fiscal policy measures will also take effect as of the beginning of 2019. After 1.7% growth this year, economic output will increase at rates of 1.9% in 2019 and 1.8% in 2020. Employment will continue to expand clearly, although at a slower pace. The number of registered unemployed persons will approach the 2 million-mark by the end of the forecasting horizon. Inflation will pick up from an average rate of 1.8% this year to 2.0% in 2019 and 1.9% in 2020. Despite its expansionary fiscal stance, the German government will continue to post a budget surplus, although this can be expected to fall from 54 billion euros to around 40 billion euros.

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