German economy might continue to shrink, says Bundesbank

The main reason for the decline is the continuing downturn in the industry. (Reuters)
Updated 19 August 2019

German economy might continue to shrink, says Bundesbank

  • The jobs market is showing signs of weakness and confidence in the services sector is also dropping

FRANKFURT: The German economy could have continued to shrink over the summer as industrial production drops amid a dearth of orders, the Bundesbank said on Monday, suggesting that the eurozone’s biggest economy is now in a recession.

German growth contracted in the second quarter on slumping exports as a global trade war, China’s own slowdown and Brexit uncertainty sapped confidence, dealing a blow to an export-focused economy.

“Overall economic performance could again decline slightly,” the Bundesbank said in a monthly report.

“The main reason for this is the continuing downturn in industry,” the central bank said, pointing to a significant decline in orders and a big drop in sentiment indicators for manufacturing firms.

While domestic consumption continues to isolate the economy, the jobs market is already showing signs of weakness and confidence in the services sector is also dropping, the Bundesbank added.

Still, the construction boom is likely to continue, providing some support. While Germany has so far rejected the idea of boosting public spending to offset the slowdown, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said that Berlin has the fiscal strength to counter any future economic crisis “with full force.”

Speaking on Sunday, Scholz said the global financial crisis in 2008/2009 had cost Germany roughly €50 billion and the government could again muster such a sum, if necessary.

Obsessed with running a balanced budget, Germany has produced surpluses for years, ignoring calls for more spending to boost growth.


Japanese officials cautious on prospects for US trade deal

Updated 17 September 2019

Japanese officials cautious on prospects for US trade deal

  • A long-sought trade pact with Japan was scrapped when Donald Trump withdrew the US from a pan-Pacific trade agreement shortly after taking office in 2017
  • Trump said he preferred that Washington and Tokyo strike a bilateral deal

TOKYO: Officials in Japan appeared wary over the prospects for a trade deal with the US after President Donald Trump said he was prepared to sign a pact soon.
Japan’s chief government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said Tuesday that the two sides are still finalizing details after reaching a basic agreement in late August on trade in farm products, digital trade and other industries.
Suga said Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are considering signing a deal in late September when they attend the UN General Assembly in New York.
“We are accelerating the work that still remains,” he said. “But I decline to comment further because we have not reached a formal agreement.”
Trump’s notice to Congress, released by the White House on Monday, did not mention tariffs on autos and parts, long a sticking point between the two countries.
It said his administration was looking forward to collaborating with lawmakers on a deal that would result in “more fair and reciprocal trade” between the two countries.
Toshimitsu Motegi, who became foreign minister last week after negotiating the deal as economy minister, said Japan must watch carefully to prevent Washington from forcing any last-minute changes, Kyodo News agency reported.
The agricultural minister, Taku Eto, cautioned against letting down Tokyo’s guard until the final agreement is reached, it said.
A long-sought trade agreement with Japan was scrapped when Trump withdrew the US from a pan-Pacific trade agreement shortly after taking office in 2017.
Japan and the other 10 remaining members of the trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, then renegotiated their own deal without the US
Trump said he preferred that Washington and Tokyo strike a bilateral deal.
That resurrected the longtime issue of tariffs on Japanese car and auto parts exports to the US and of stiffer duties on US exports of farm and other products to Japan.