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While the core inflation rate has remained relatively stable since 2011 at an average of slightly above 1% yoy the oil price slump is the main reason for the temporary decline in consumer prices at the start of 2015. However, the oil price rise of some 30% since January and the stabilisation of the EUR exchange rate sent the German inflation rate out of negative territory after just one month and then made it accelerate to 0.7% yoy recently. We therefore expect slightly stronger increases in consumer prices of 0.5% this year and 2.0% in 2016. With our forecast the risks are more pronounced to the downside. The oil price might rise more slowly than expected on account of the global oversupply. In addition, the EUR/USD has now stabilised at above 1.10 after hitting its low in mid-April. Our forecast assumes EUR/USD parity by year-end.
The average age of cars on German roads hit a new record high of nine years at the beginning of 2015. The primary reason for this is the improved quality of vehicles. Although the diesel share of new car registrations has averaged well over 40% in recent years, diesel only constituted 31% of the cars on German roads at last count. The durability of cars is causing the mix of cars in service to change only slowly. The diesel car example suggests that it may take many years before cars powered by alternative technologies constitute a major share of all the cars registered in Germany. The vision of a future with largely climate-neutral or locally emission-free vehicles on German roads by 2050 is virtually unattainable as things currently stand.
Clients with a migrant background are growing in importance as a target demographic for retail banking. In collaboration with Bayreuth University we have carried out an empirical analysis of risk attitudes in this customer group using data supplied by the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). Our findings allow implications to be drawn for bespoke advisory services for clients with a migrant background. In effect, banks will be able to raise the quality of their financial advice to the customer's benefit – and tap into a key growth market at the same time.
Germany was an attractive destination for migrants in 2014 for the fifth year in a row. The net migration balance climbed again by roughly 20% on the year and clearly exceeded the 500,000 mark for the first time since 1992. Roughly 1.4 million persons immigrated to Germany, the second highest total in the last 65 years (1992: 1.5 million). Since the beginning of the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone in 2010 a net 1.7 million persons have migrated to Germany, so despite a shrinking domestic population the total population has expanded by approximately half a million.
Industry 4.0 (also known as integrated industry, industrial internet) is currently the subject of intense debate. This megatrend sets out to change the way goods and services are created and distributed, reshaping the industrial landscape on a national and global scale. China intends to play a leading role in this digital evolution. A wide range of policies have been initiated and sizeable progress in various areas has been made. The country is determined to seize the outstanding opportunity at hand, as the recently unveiled “Made in China 2025” plan underlines. China still has a long road ahead. However, with its new plan it combines a long-term vision with concrete actions in the proclaimed “Year of Innovation”.
The Q1 GDP details provide some comfort relative to the disappointing 0.3% qoq headline number. Final domestic demand was up 0.8% qoq while net-exports as well as inventories both provided a drag. Thus, our 2015 story of GDP growth driven by strong domestic demand remains intact. Despite this, we lower our 2015 GDP forecast from 2.0% to 1.6%. This is primarily due to the weaker-than-expected Q1 GDP growth that provides a lower starting base for 2015. However, we still expect quarterly growth rates to average a healthy 0.4% qoq in 2015. Further topics in this issue: Construction investment: Sharp increase expected, but focus on downside risks, The view from Berlin. German politics: Quarrel among friends and families.
Politicians should focus on an expansion of building activity in the major cities and conurbations in order to reduce the upside pressure on house prices. In the past few months there have been indications of easing activity in the construction sector. If this trend materialises, the pressure on house prices will intensify further. One possible cause of this development is capacity restrictions, and a lack of suitable skilled labour in the finishing trades in particular. An immigration law that specifically focuses on bottlenecks in the labour market could help to bring about some relief. If it becomes obvious over the next few months that construction growth is going to remain sluggish long term, rent control should not be implemented in the regions.
The period up to 2025 offers the German steel industry good prospects for a stable and economically sound future. However, this requires policymakers to take a reasonable approach to the further development of the regulatory framework for steel producers and their customer industries in Germany just as it requires only a modest level of expansion in steel capacity at global level. There are also other conceivable scenarios with greater risks, challenges and consequences for the German steel industry and its employees – and these alternatives are in no way completely improbable.
At sectoral level, the positive effects of the euro's current weakness are clearly outweighing its drawbacks. Capital equipment manufacturers are benefiting the most from the increasing price competitiveness offered by Germany as a business location. In 2014, the automotive industry generated 45.5% of its total revenue from non-EMU countries, while the proportion for the mechanical engineering sector was almost 43%. Parts of the electrical engineering, chemicals and pharmaceutical industries are also especially benefiting from the recent devaluation in the euro.