Confounding the Crisis: German Exports Soar above One Trillion Euros
The menacing currency crisis is dominating discussion in the European Union -- but the German economy continues to be spared. This year companies there will manage to exceed exports of more than a trillion euros, a figure not even reached during the boom year of 2008.
The economic outlook for euro-countries, including Germany, has deteriorated significantly of late. But the current situation remains rosy for German companies, whose products are in greater demand abroad than ever before.
Within the year, German exports will surpass the 1 trillion mark, the Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA) reported on Tuesday. Even in the country's legendary boom year of 2008, exports came up just short of the historic number.
Exports are up by 12 percent for 2011 some two months before year's end, with further growth expected for next year, the organization said. In 2012, exports are projected to increase by at least 6 percent to 1.139 trillion. German exports make up some 9.5 percent of world trade, the exporters' association estimates. "Stormy times on the financial markets are accompanied by remarkably stable channels in the real economy," BGA president Anton Börner said.
Germany appears to be an island of tranquillity on the labor market too. Despite growing recession fears, there were more open positions available in November than ever. After a brief lull in Sept. and Oct., demand for workers climbed to a record high, the Federal Employment Agency (BA) reported. Two out of three such jobs, however, were offered on a temporary basis. "Companies in Germany obviously want to recruit despite countless uncertainties on the international financial markets," according to the BA.
The situation is attributed to two central factors: First, in good times more workers change jobs than they do during an economic crisis. Second, it often takes time to fill vacancies with qualified workers. Meanwhile the favorable job market has inspired healthy consumer spending among Germans. For the third time in a row the consumer climate rose this month, market research group GfK reported on Monday.
Tensions Remain High
Still, BGA president Börner warned, excess optimism isn't called for. Should the debt crisis lead to a credit crunch, the real economy could quickly suffer, he said, adding that the success of Germany's export-dependent economy relies on the fate of the common currency. Were the euro to fail, the economic and political consequences would be great, he said. "It would mean nothing less than ... renationalization and protectionism," Börner said. "In the end, the Balkanization and marginalization of Europe."
The level of tension in the euro zone is evident from a European Commission barometer, the Economic Sentiment Index (ESI), which surveys the mood among consumers and the service, retail and construction industries. It sank from 94.8 points in October to 93.7 points in November.
The indicator also showed a gloomier economic climate than expected across individual euro-zone nations, with France taking the heaviest loss, followed by the Netherlands, though heavily indebted Spain and Italy saw slight improvements. In Germany, the ESI was practically unaltered, down just 0.1 percentage points.
kla -- with wires
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