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ECONOMY

Germany slashes 2013 growth forecast to 0.4 pct

Germany slashed Wednesday its estimate for growth this year by more than half, as Europe's debt crisis takes its toll on its top economy, but forecast a solid rebound in 2014.

Germany slashes 2013 growth forecast to 0.4 pct
Photo: DPA

Europe’s powerhouse economy should expand by 0.4 percent in 2013, Economy

Minister Philipp Rösler said, a sharp downwards revision from a previous forecast of 1.0 percent. In 2014, growth should be 1.6 percent, he said.

“There is every reason for confidence,” Rösler said in a statement as he presented the government’s annual economic report.

“We believe that the weak phase this winter will be overcome in the rest of the year and that our economy will get back into gear,” added the minister.

Germany has until recently fared better than most of its debt-stricken eurozone partners in the crisis but the economy began to slow sharply at the end of last year.

Data published on Tuesday showed Germany’s powerhouse economy grew by a mere 0.7 percent in 2012 after a stellar 2011 when GDP expanded by 3.0 percent. And the economy seemed to have slammed abruptly into reverse in the fourth quarter of the year, as officials estimate a contraction of 0.5 percent.

Germany has been hit not only by the woes of its eurozone trading partners but also by a slowing global economy that has reduced demand for its all-important exports.

Nevertheless, unemployment remains at low levels for the moment, although analysts have warned that this too cannot last forever.

Rösler himself said there would be around 60,000 more people unemployed in 2013 than in 2012 but said this period of weakness would be “temporary.”

“In the course of 2013, growth should noticeably pick up. It will be driven primarily by domestic demand,” he added.

Germany would achieve its goal of registering a structurally balanced budget in 2014, Rösler said.

AFP/mry

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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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