Thursday 30 July 2009

Lower Increase in Unemployment Rate in Germany July 2009

In June the number of registered unemployed had gone down to everybody's surprise. It was clear that this would change in July. Still this month held another surprise. The figures released today were lower than expected.

The unemployment figure rose by 52,000 (now 3.46 million) according to the monthly statement publich by the "Bundesargentur für Arbeit" on 30.07.2009. Experts expected ca. 100,000.

The delay of the impact of the current recession on the labour market is due to government subsidised "Kurzarbeit" where employees do not get laid off but work shorter hours.

Together with the positive signal from the consumer climate index and the business climate index in July 2009 this is another piece of good news needed so badly right now.

The warnings for the labour market are not gone yet but there is hope for a lower drop and possibly a faster recovery than anticipated so far.

For background information on the development of the German Property Market and opportunities in the rental market please view

Uwe Falkenberg


Monday 27 July 2009

German Investment Market: Positive signals from consumer climate July 2009

Consumer climate – upwards trend continues

Findings of the GfK consumer climate study for July 2009

Nuremberg, July 27, 2009 – In Germany, the upwards trend in the consumer climate continues on through the summer. Both economic and income expectations have increased and there has been a considerable rise in the propensity to buy. The overall indicator is forecasting a value of 3.5 points for August 2009, following a revised value of 3.0 points in July, and has therefore improved more strongly than in the previous month. In a longer term comparison however, the consumer climate is still at a very low level.

After some economic institutes signaled an end to the economic downturn, the economic pessimism on the part of consumers also declined. Following a moderate climb in the previous month, July saw a somewhat stronger improvement in the economic outlook. Inflation is disappearing and people have more money in their pockets. Consumers are rewarding this situation with another rise in income expectations. Furthermore, stable and indeed falling prices led to the propensity to buy recording the biggest gain of all the indicators in July. Alongside favorable prices, the fact that the labor market has not slumped yet plays an important role here. However, the acid test for the consumer climate still lies ahead should there be a significant rise in unemployment figures again in late autumn.

Economic expectations: improvement continues

Economic pessimism declined again in July this year. The current upswing of 8.6 points is the fourth rise in a row. The indicator now stands at -14 points and is only 6 points below the corresponding figure in the previous year. Economic expectations have therefore moved significantly away from their recession low at the start of the year when the indicator was down at almost -33 points.

Consumers obviously assume that the steep downturn in the economy has come to an end, even if they do not consider the recession to be over and they therefore share the opinion of several economic experts who have arrived at a similar assessment. In its recently published monthly report, Deutsche Bundesbank for example believes that the free fall in the German economy is over for the time being. The ifo Business Climate Index also rose the fourth time in a row in July, supporting this theory.

Reports from industry also give cause for cautious optimism. Most recently, the Federation of German Industries (BDI) reported that there were signs of an end to the downturn. Moreover, the major shock in the labor market has so far not materialized. Companies are presently still trying to absorb losses by using short-time working. However, to avoid large scale redundancies in the future, the economic situation would have to stabilize on a sustained basis.

Income expectations: back in positive territory

After a significant rise of 6 points in the previous month, income expectations gained a further 5 points in July. Currently the indicator stands at 1.8 points, in positive territory again for the first time since April 2008.

In addition to the absence of inflation, the pension increases as of 1 July of 2.4% on average should have helped improve sentiment regarding incomes. Since the middle of the year, measures under economic package II, such as lower health insurance premiums and income tax relief, have also eased the situation. In conjunction with stable prices, these measures continue to support income expectations.

Propensity to buy: significant gains

The propensity to buy improved significantly in July this year from its already high level. With a rise of 10.6 points, the upswing even hit double digits. The indicator currently stands at 25.1 points. Compared to the figure for the previous year, the indicator has improved by a good 51 points. Above all, low prices are currently acting an important driver for the propensity to buy. Experience in the past has repeatedly shown that there is a direct link between consumer price expectations and their willingness to spend money.

Technical consumer goods such as entertainment electronics and household appliances are currently popular with consumers. This is confirmed by the corresponding GfK retail surveys, which show growth for technical consumer goods in the first five months of this year. According to the GfK Retail and Technology Non-Food Index there were significant rises in terms of sales between January and May 2009 above all in the areas of entertainment electronics (+3.%), information technology (+5.5%) as well as large and small household appliances (+8.6% and +6%). In the car segment, new registrations recorded a double digit increase, although this was primarily due to economic policy in the form of the scrappage allowance.

The propensity to buy is also likely to have been boosted by the fact the current low interest rates and the financial crisis have made saving unpopular at the moment. This is confirmed by the decline in the propensity to save.

Consumer climate: upwards trend continues

The overall indicator is forecasting a value of 3.5 points for August 2009, following a revised value of 3.0 points in July. Again there has been a stronger rise in the consumer climate. Consequently, private consumption currently remains a significant support for the economy. However, the level of the indicator is still comparatively low.

A sustained stabilization in the consumer climate will depend above all on the further development of the labor market. Should there be a considerable rise in the number of unemployed again in late autumn, this would be likely to become an endurance test for consumer sentiment.

The survey

These findings are extracts from the "GfK consumer climate MAXX survey”, which is based on around 2,000 consumer interviews conducted each month on behalf of the EU Commission. The report contains charts, forecasts and a detailed commentary regarding the indicators. In addition, the report includes information on proposed consumer spending in 20 different areas of the consumer goods and services markets. The GfK consumer climate survey has been conducted since 1980.

The next publication date will be on August 27, 2009.

Further information: Rolf Bürkl, Tel. + 49 911 395-3056,

The GfK Group

The GfK Group offers the fundamental knowledge that industry, retailers, services companies and the media need to make market decisions. It offers a comprehensive range of information and consultancy services in the three business sectors of Custom Research, Retail and Technology and Media. The no. 4 market research organization worldwide operates in more than 100 countries and employs over 10,000 staff. In 2008, the GfK Group’s sales amounted to EUR 1.2 billion. For further information, visit our website:

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The development of the consumer climate is complemented by an optimistic view of the Business Climate (See article on recent development). For background information on the development of the German Property Market and opportunities in the rental market please view

Uwe Falkenberg


Friday 24 July 2009

German Economy: Business Climate Improved Again

The German Business Climate improved for the fourth consecutive month:

The Ifo Business Climate Index for industry and trade in Germany rose again in July. The firms are no longer quite so dissatisfied with their current business situation as in the previous month. They are again less sceptical regarding business developments in the coming half year. It seems that the economy is gaining traction.

In manufacturing the business climate has improved. The firms report a business situation that is no longer quite so poor. With regard to the business outlook their estimations are yet again less critical. Their scepticism regarding foreign business has also weakened further. The utilisation of available machinery and equipment has, since Spring, not been further reduced, but overall the utilisation rate of technical capacities is clearly below average. The manufacturers have made little change in their personnel plans and intend to reduce staff further.

The business climate in wholesaling has brightened. The survey participants have assessed their current business situation less negatively. Also with regard to the business outlook, their pessimism has abated. Retailers have appraised their current business situation clearly more favourably than in the previous month and have ranked it as nearly satisfactory. Their business expectations for the coming half year, however, are more dampened than they were in June. For this reason, the business climate index in retailing has fallen slightly.

In construction the business climate is somewhat more favourable. The contractors are less dissatisfied with their present business than they were in June. Their caution regarding the six-month business outlook has weakened somewhat.

Hans-Werner Sinn
President of the Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich

Detailed material including Graphs and Tables are available on the ifo-website.

The investnent climate for property or real estate investments in Germany is favourabel and the demand not only by opportunists is increasing. For support on property search and investment contact Berlin Portfolio.