German economy ‘in better shape’ than thought in Q4

Germany’s massive car industry has struggled to adapt to new tougher emissions tests and was the main culprit for the economic slowdown. (AFP)
Updated 22 February 2019
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German economy ‘in better shape’ than thought in Q4

  • Destatis confirmed preliminary readings of 0.0 percent expansion between October and December, adjusted for price, seasonal and calendar effects
  • Europe’s powerhouse only just escaped a technical recession — two successive quarters of negative growth — in the second half of 2018

FRANKFURT AM MAIN: The German economy is “in better shape” than feared, analysts said Friday, after detailed data for the fourth quarter of 2018 showed a dashboard with few red lights despite flat growth.
Figures from federal statistics authority Destatis confirmed preliminary readings of 0.0 percent expansion between October and December, adjusted for price, seasonal and calendar effects.
“German economic growth has stalled,” the statisticians said in a statement, with the flatline in the final three months of last year following contraction of 0.2 percent between July and September.
That meant Europe’s powerhouse only just escaped a technical recession — two successive quarters of negative growth — in the second half of 2018.
Nevertheless, “the German economy is in a better shape than its current reputation,” economist Carsten Brzeski of ING Diba bank commented on the release.
Private consumption, government spending and investments all picked up, while both imports and exports grew at around the same pace, leaving the country’s trade surplus almost flat.
“None of the traditional growth components” were negative, Brzeski noted, arguing the data showed the massive car industry’s struggles to adapt to new tougher emissions tests were the main culprit for the slowdown.
Stocks of newly-built cars had piled up in the second and third quarter, he pointed out, before being finally delivered in the fourth after passing the so-called WLTP process introduced in September.
“Inventories were a massive drag” on growth in the final three months, Unicredit analysts agreed, calculating the effect slowed the economy by “a whopping 0.6” percentage points.
“The temporary problems in the car industry mask solid fundamentals,” Brzeski said.
“In a couple of months, the German economy should be able again to show its true colors.”


Apple’s Cook to China: keep opening for sake of global economy

Updated 23 March 2019
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Apple’s Cook to China: keep opening for sake of global economy

  • Cook’s comments come as Apple weathers sinking sales in China
  • Despite official pledges and repeated assurances that China would continue to open its markets

BEIJING: Apple chief executive Tim Cook nudged China on Saturday to open up and said the future would depend on global collaboration, as the United States and China remained locked in a bitter trade dispute.
“We encourage China to continue to open up, we see that as essential, not only for China to reach its full potential, but for the global economy to thrive,” Cook said at a China Development Forum in Beijing.
Despite official pledges and repeated assurances that China would continue to open its markets, some analysts worry that its reform project has slowed or even stalled under President Xi Jinping, who has sought greater control over the economy and a bigger role for state-owned firms at the expense of the private sector.
Cook’s comments come as Apple weathers sinking sales in China because of a contracting smartphone market, increasing pressure from Chinese rivals, and slowing upgrade cycles. The company reported a revenue drop of 26 percent in the greater China region during the quarter ending in December.
Before those results came out, in a January letter to investors, Cook blamed the company’s poor China performance on trade tension between the United States and China, suggesting that pressure on the economy was hurting sales in China.