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German economy expands for tenth consecutive year

Initial figures from the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) indicate that the German economy expanded in 2019 as well. “However, growth lost momentum,” the experts said in Berlin on 15 January. Price-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) accordingly grew by only 0.6% on the year. The two preceding years saw significantly stronger growth: in 2017, GDP was up by 2.5% (adjusted for calendar variation, 2.8%) and in 2018 by 1.5%.

According to the statisticians, the German economy has grown for the tenth consecutive year, making this the longest period of expansion experienced by a unified Germany.

Full-year 2019 data are based on preliminary estimates for the fourth quarter; the Federal Statistical Office did not provide any specific data for the final quarter of the year. These data are scheduled to be published on 14 February 2020.

Boost provided by consumption

As in the previous year, growth stimulus came mainly from the domestic sector, the statisticians reported. Household final consumption expenditure was up by a price-adjusted 1.6%, and government final consumption expenditure by 2.5%, on the year. Construction likewise saw an increase in investment relative to the previous year (+3.8%). Civil engineering and housing construction recorded particularly strong investment growth. The experts reported that other investment, a category which includes spending on research and development, among other things, also exceeded the previous year’s level (+2.7%). However, according to the Federal Statistical Office, investment in machinery and equipment has experienced less dynamic growth, rising by only 0.4%. Total price-adjusted gross capital formation was even down on the year (‑1.7%). This category includes not only gross fixed capital formation but also inventory changes, the contribution to growth of which was perceptibly negative. One of the main reasons for the destocking was weak industrial production along with a simultaneous rise in exports.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, the latter continued to increase on an annual average of 2019, yet no longer as strongly as in previous years: price-adjusted German exports of goods and services increased by 0.9% from 2018. Price-adjusted imports were up more strongly, by +1.9%.