Green Suicide: Germany’s Industry In Freefall
Its main industry is in freefall. Its political system is descending into chaos. The banking system is in crisis, and consumer demand is stuck in the doldrums. Which country? It is, of course, Germany.
With every week that passes there are more and more signs of a deep malaise in its economy.
The nation once known as Europe’s powerhouse, and the locomotive of the entire eurozone, is slowly turning into its sick man instead.
That is partly a German story, of course, but it is also a global one. When the world’s fourth-largest economy runs into trouble, it has repercussions far beyond its own borders. Such as? Germany’s stagnating economy will make the eurozone more unstable than ever, it will make the European Union more protectionist, it will destabilise global trade at the worst possible time, and may well trigger a financial crisis. It is going to be one of the most dangerous trends of the 2020s.
When Germany released its industrial production figures yesterday, they were predictably awful. Output dropped by 5.3pc over the same month a year ago, the worst reading since the depths of the last recession in 2009.
But then, the news out of the country is usually grim right now. Retail sales figures out this week showed a 1.9pc year-on-year fall. Its mighty auto industry, the engine of the industrial machine, is slashing jobs, with 9,500 redundancies at Audi announced in the last month and another 10,000 at Daimler, as its manufacturers desperately try to pivot away from high-pollution diesel to electric vehicles.
The once mighty Deutsche Bank is still cutting jobs as it tries to keep itself alive. Meanwhile, the government looks more fragile than ever, with Angela Merkel’s grand coalition coming apart at the seams and with the anti-business Greens almost certain to win a share of power soon.
In truth, this is more than just a cyclical slowdown. The German economy may well be the sick man of Europe for the next decade. True, that will largely be a German matter. But it will also impact the rest of the world in four specific ways.