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ENERGY

Energy firms rake in massive profits

German energy firms continued to rake in massive profits despite the recent financial crisis, with the three biggest companies making profits of €23 billion last year, media reported Wednesday.

Energy firms rake in massive profits
Photo: DPA

E.ON, RWE and EnBW have steadily grown their profits for the past eight years, according to a report in the daily Frankfurter Rundschau, citing a study by the Saarland University of Applied Sciences.

The study, commissioned by the Greens party, found that since 2002, earnings for the same big firms had risen seven-fold and totaled €100 billion over the period.

In the first half of 2010, the firms had pulled in €15 billion in profits.

In addition, the three energy firms can expect extra earnings of €70 billion through the extended lifetimes of the nation’s nuclear reactors.

Greens party parliamentary leader Jürgen Trittin and his deputy Bärbel Höhn said in a statement that the “astronomical” returns could only be explained by a lack of competition.The profits that would be delivered by the nuclear extension was an unparalleled gift in German business history, they said.

The head of Germany’s Monopoly Commission – an independent watchdog that reports to the federal government – Justus Haucap, told the paper: “The enormous profits are not surprising. There is no functioning competition for energy production in Germany, which has been reinforced once again by the extension of nuclear reactors.”

Holger Krawinkel, energy expert for the Federation of German Consumer Organisations, said: “Competition for Germany power production is a farce.”

DAPD/The Local/dw

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ECONOMY

German consumer prices set to rise steeply amid war in Ukraine

Russia's war in Ukraine is slowing down the economy and accelerating inflation in Germany, the Ifo Institute has claimed.

German consumer prices set to rise steeply amid war in Ukraine

According to the Munich-based economics institute, inflation is expected to rise from 5.1 to 6.1 percent in March. This would be the steepest rise in consumer prices since 1982.

Over the past few months, consumers in Germany have already had to battle with huge hikes in energy costs, fuel prices and increases in the price of other everyday commodities.

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With Russia and Ukraine representing major suppliers of wheat and grain, further price rises in the food market are also expected, putting an additional strain on tight incomes. 

At the same time, the ongoing conflict is set to put a dampener on the country’s annual growth forecasts. 

“We only expect growth of between 2.2 and 3.1 percent this year,” Ifo’s head of economic research Timo Wollmershäuser said on Wednesday. 

Due to the increase in the cost of living, consumers in Germany could lose around €6 billion in purchasing power by the end of March alone.

With public life in Germany returning to normal and manufacturers’ order books filling up, a significant rebound in the economy was expected this year. 

But the war “is dampening the economy through significantly higher commodity prices, sanctions, increasing supply bottlenecks for raw materials and intermediate products as well as increased economic uncertainty”, Wollmershäuser said.

Because of the current uncertainly, the Ifo Institute calculated two separate forecasts for the upcoming year.

In the optimistic scenario, the price of oil falls gradually from the current €101 per barrel to €82 by the end of the year, and the price of natural gas falls in parallel.

In the pessimistic scenario, the oil price rises to €140 per barrel by May and only then falls to €122 by the end of the year.

Energy costs have a particularly strong impact on private consumer spending.

They could rise between 3.7 and 5 percent, depending on the developments in Ukraine, sanctions on Russia and the German government’s ability to source its energy. 

On Wednesday, German media reported that the government was in the process of thrashing out an additional set of measures designed to support consumers with their rising energy costs.

The hotly debated measures are expected to be finalised on Wednesday evening and could include increased subsidies, a mobility allowance, a fuel rebate and a child bonus for families. 

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s proposals for future energy price relief

In one piece of positive news, the number of unemployed people in Germany should fall to below 2.3 million, according to the Ifo Institute.

However, short-time work, known as Kurzarbeit in German, is likely to increase significantly in the pessimistic scenario.

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