New results of the foreign direct investment stock statistics

The latest edition of our Special Statistical Publication 10 “Foreign direct investment stock statistics” provides information on important findings in the development and structure of cross-border business assets as at the end of 2008.[1] Strikingly, international investment slackened as the economic situation steadily worsened. With regard to foreign direct investment (FDI) by German investors, euro-area countries were far less affected than non-euro-area countries. From a sectoral perspective, the most severe decline was recorded for the crisis-stricken banking sector.

The global recession has already left its mark on the investigated corporate balance sheets. Between the end of 2007 and the end of 2008, the volume of primary German direct investment abroad rose by just €4 billion to €851 billion and the level of primary foreign direct investment in Germanyincreased by no more than €7 billion to €654 billion. In both cases, there was a marked reduction in equity capital (-€27 billion and -€13 billion respectively) as a result of lower business earnings in 2008 with declining annual profits or even an extremely sharp increase in annual losses compared with the previous year. This was largely offset by a boost in outward FDI lending by other affiliated enterprises in Germany to their foreign direct investment enterprises, along with expanded inward FDI lending activity by foreign investors.

A somewhat different picture emerges if the consolidated aggregate of primary and secondary foreign direct investment[2] is considered. In total, German enterprises’ foreign investment increased by €41 billion in 2008, focusing exclusively on euro-area countries, thus growing to an overall volume of €945 billion. Exchange rate induced revaluation effects had a major impact on direct investment stocks outside the euro area, of which German corporate assets held in the United Kingdom were the most affected. In euro terms, these investments recorded a sharp decline on account of the almost 30% appreciation of the euro vis-à-vis the pound sterling. By contrast, the valuation gain generated by the 5.8% appreciation of the US dollar against the euro had much less of an impact. In this context, the crisis-induced slump in earnings experienced by the US banking sector had a detrimental effect, with the result that, overall, German corporate assets held in the United States stagnated.

Compared with the German outward FDI position, primary and secondary foreign direct investment in Germany increased only marginally (+€6 billion) to €479 billion at the end of 2008.


  1. The Special Statistical Publication 10 “Foreign direct investment stock statistics” has just been published on our website ( under Statistics / Publications / Special Statistical Publications) and is also available as a supplement to our Statistical Supplement 3 “Balance of payments statistics” in printed form from our Press Office.
  2. Owing to the major significance of holding companies with respect to cross-border affiliates (two-fifths of primary German direct investment at the end of 2008 related to holding companies abroad while two-thirds of primary foreign direct investment was focused on holding companies in Germany), primary direct investment in dependent holding companies is excluded from this calculation. Instead, the participating interests of these holding companies are taken into account in order to identify those objects of investment that are economically relevant.