Friday, February 17, 2012

The German Economic Miracle

Germany has done incredibly well over the last few years -- in fact, their overall economy is probably one of the best performing in the world.  Below are some macro-level statistics that put that performance in perspective.  The information is from the website Trading Economics.

Let's start with GDP.  The above chart shows the annual German growth rate expressed every quarter.  Like the US, the contraction was incredibly deep -- they had two quarters of an extremely sharp contraction (6.3% and 6.8%).  However, coming out of the recession, thy had five quarters of 3%+ growth.

As a result of their economic growth rate, the German unemployment rate has been dropping continuously for the last two years.  It is currently at 6.6%.

Inflation is contained at 2%, which means

Their cost of financing  their debt -- the interest rate on their bonds -- is very cheap.  In addition, German Bunds are the European equivalent of US Treasuries -- they're the safe investment on the continent.

German industrial production rebounded nicely from the recession, but is now slowing on a YOY basis.

The above chart of overall industrial production in Germany shows that it has regained its pre-recessionary level, but has dropped for the last two months.

This is a big reason for Germany's success: they have a positive balance of trade.  Put another way, their economy has strong export component.

The above chart from the St. Louis Fed shows that total exports for Germany have rebounded strongly from their recessionary lows, and are now higher than their previous peak.

Retail sales have softened over the last few months, really slowing down in the last six months of last year.