Talking point
European bank results: Is the glass half-full or half-empty?
The half-year results of large European banks offer ammunition to both optimists and pessimists: loan losses and administrative expenses are shrinking, but so are total revenues. Net interest income, the sickly child of recent years, finally seems to be stabilising; however, net income is down again to poor levels. The state of an industry with two distinct faces. [more]
Hot off the press
China-EU relations: Gearing up for growth
The recently announced plans for a free trade agreement between China and the EU are momentous. China is the EU’s No. 1 supplier of goods and its third-largest export market. In turn, the EU is China’s largest trading partner. Going by current trends, EU-China annual bilateral trade could grow close to 1.5 times in a decade’s time. Not only goods but also services trade has large potential to grow. Chinese investment into the EU is still in its infancy but is likely to increase and become more broad-based, covering a wider range of industries and countries across Europe. New dynamism is expected from a bilateral investment agreement currently in negotiation and rising interest of Chinese investors in European companies, as shown by our compilation of Chinese M&A deals vis-à-vis the EU and Germany. Plenty of headroom exists for greater use of RMB in bilateral trade and investment relations. A note of caution concerns the risk of trade disputes which is unlikely to be removed in the near term. [more]
Germany
Temporary immigration boom: A wake-up call for politicians?
Germany has become the No. 1 destination country for migrants in Europe again and No. 2 in the whole OECD after the United States. The turnaround reflects the crisis in the EMU periphery as well as the (postponed) opening of the German labour market to citizens from the 10 Central and Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007. The higher immigration should only temporarily obscure the negative effects from the introduction of a minimum wage and the retirement wave triggered by the "pension at 63" option. Given the economic recovery in the eurozone periphery the present migration surge is unlikely to last and ageing Germany’s demand for labour from outside the EU will increase. Therefore, Germany needs to shape up to encourage more pull-based immigration. This requires a skills-oriented migration policy as well as more flexibility in the labour market and at the company level. [more]
Spotlight on Germany
 
 
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