Regardless of who else rises or falls economically in the European Union, the focus almost always ends up on the bloc’s largest and most important economy, Germany. And the messages about the northern powerhouse seem to be mixed, at best, right now.
Germany, reported a 2.4% monthly increase in November’s industrial production statistics following three declines in the previous four months, according to Eurostat. Still, it significantly trailed monthly gains in Ireland, Sweden and Malta in statistics unveiled this week. Overall, the European Union’s industrial production increased by 1.8% in the EU-17 and 1.5% in the EU-28 categories, respectively. The pace in November was also 3% better than that of November 2012.
However, one day later, less positive news arrived: that Germany’s growth slipped from 2012’s lackluster 0.7% to 0.4% in 2013. It marks the worst performance since 2009, and at a time when the EU as a whole needs Germany to show the way to prosperity. While troubling, a majority of experts remain bullish on Germany, predicting growth rates exceeding 2% this year on the renewed strength of its primary export destinations. Also fueling cautious optimism was that German growth at least finished strong in the fourth quarter compared to the earlier portions of 2013. Either way, Germany obviously remains the quintessential economy to watch in the EU.
- Brian Shappell, CBA, CICP, NACM staff writer