Economy of Germany
|Economy of Germany|
Frankfurt, financial capital of Germany.
|Rank||4th (nominal) / 5th (PPP)|
|Fiscal year||calendar year|
|Trade organisations||EU, WTO (via EU membership) and OECD|
|GDP||$3.428 trillion (2012 nominal)|
|GDP growth||0.4% (2013)|
|GDP per capita||$41,245 (PPP; 2012 est.)|
|GDP by sector||agriculture: 0.8%, industry: 28%, services: 71.2% (2012 est.)|
|Inflation (CPI)||1.43% (December 2013)|
|Gini coefficient||.27 (2006)|
|Labour force||43.93 million (2012 est.)|
|agriculture (2,4%), industry (29,7%), services (67,8%) (2005)|
|Unemployment||6.7% (March 2014)|
|Average gross salary||€2,977 / $4,076, monthly (2013)|
|Average net salary||€1,889 / $2,600, monthly (2013)|
|Main industries||iron and steel, coal, cement, mineral fuels, chemicals, plastics, production machinery, vehicles, trains, machine tools, electronics, food and beverages, shipbuilding, space and aircraft, optical and medical apparatus, pharmaceuticals, textiles, agriculture|
|Ease of doing business rank||20th|
|Exports||$1.492 trillion (2012 est.)|
|Export goods||motor vehicles, machinery, chemicals, computer and electronic products, electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals, metals, transport equipment, foodstuffs, textiles, rubber and plastic products|
|Main export partners|| France 10.2%,
United Kingdom 7.0%,
United States 6.3%,
Switzerland 4.7%, (2012 est.)
|Imports||$1.276 trillion (2012 est.)|
|Import goods||machinery, data processing equipment, vehicles, chemicals, oil and gas, metals, electric equipment, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, agricultural products|
|Main import partners|| Netherlands 14.0%,
United Kingdom 4.9%,
Russia 4.4%, (2012 est.)
|FDI stock||$1.057 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)|
|Gross external debt||$5.624 trillion (30 June 2011)|
|Public debt||81.0% of GDP (2013)|
|Revenues||$1.511 trillion (2012 est.)|
|Expenses||$1.507 trillion (2012 est.)|
donor: $7.5 billion (€5 billion), 0.28% of GDPGermany is ranked on the CPI  2013 as 12th for the perceived level corruption
|Credit rating||Standard & Poor's: AAA
|Foreign reserves||$233.813 billion, €200 billion (April 2011)|
Germany is the largest national economy in Europe, the fourth-largest by nominal GDP in the world, and fifth by GDP (PPP). Since the age of industrialisation and beyond, the country has been a driver, innovator, and beneficiary of an ever more globalised economy. Germany's economic policy is based on the concept of the social market economy. The country is a founding member of the European Union and the Eurozone. Germany is the third largest exporter in the world with $1.516 trillion exported in 2012.[dated info] Exports account for more than one-third of national output.[dated info]  In 2013, Germany recorded the highest trade surplus in the world worth $270 billion, making it the biggest capital exporter globally. Among the top 10 biggest economies in the world, Germany is the only country with a stable Triple-A (AAA) credit rating.
Germany is the largest producer of lignite in the world. Germany is also rich in timber, iron ore, potash, salt, uranium, nickel, copper and natural gas. Energy in Germany is sourced predominantly by fossil fuels, followed by nuclear power, and by renewable energy like biomass (wood and biofuels), wind, hydro and solar.
The service sector contributes around 70% of the total GDP, industry 29.1%, and agriculture 0.9%. Most of the country's products are in engineering, especially in automobiles, machinery, metals, and chemical goods. Germany is the leading producer of wind turbines and solar power technology in the world. Combination of service-oriented manufacturing, R&D spending, links between industry and academia, international cooperation and the Mittelstand contribute to the overall competitiveness of the economy of Germany.
Germany is the world's top location for trade fairs. Around two thirds of the world's leading trade fairs take place in Germany. The largest annual international trade fairs and congresses are held in several German cities such as Hanover, Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin.
Of the world's 500 largest stock market listed companies measured by revenue, the Fortune Global 500, 37 are headquartered in Germany. In 2012 the ten largest were Volkswagen, Allianz, E.ON, Daimler, Siemens, Metro, Deutsche Telekom, Munich Re, BASF, and BMW. Other large German companies include: Robert Bosch, ThyssenKrupp, Continental[disambiguation needed], MAN and Trumpf (diversified industrials); KUKA (robotics); Bayer and Merck (pharmaceuticals); Adidas and Puma (clothing and footwear); Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank (banking and finance); Deutsche Bahn (rail transport); Aldi, Lidl, and Edeka (retail); SAP (computer software); Infineon (semiconductors); Henkel (household and personal consumer products); Deutsche Post (logistics); Bertelsmann (mass media); and Hugo Boss (luxury goods). Well-known global brands are Mercedes Benz, BMW, Adidas, Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, Bayer, BASF, Bosch, Siemens, Lufthansa, SAP and Nivea.
Since the age of industrialisation, the country has been a driver, innovator, and beneficiary of an ever more globalized economy. Germany is a founding member of the EU, the G8 and the G20 and was the world's largest exporter from 2003 to 2008. In 2011, it remains the second largest exporter and third largest importer. It generates a trade surplus of $270 billion, making it the biggest capital exporter globally.
Before 1850 Germany lagged behind the leaders in industrial development, Britain, France and Belgium. By 1850 the German states were catching up, and by 1900 Germany was a world leader in industrialization, along with Britain and the United States. In 1800, Germany's social structure was poorly suited to entrepreneurship or economic development.
The reaction to Napoleon's conquests of German countries during the era of the French Revolution (1790s to 1815), produced important institutional reforms, including the abolition of feudal restrictions on the sale of large landed estates, the reduction of the power of the guilds in the cities, and the introduction of a new, more efficient commercial law. Nevertheless, traditionalism remained strong in most of Germany.
Until midcentury, the guilds, the landed aristocracy, the churches, and the government bureaucracies had so many rules and restrictions that entrepreneurship was held in low esteem, and given little opportunity to develop. From the 1830s and 1840s, Prussia, Saxony, and other states reorganized agriculture, introducing sugar beets, turnips, and potatoes, yielding a higher level of food production that enabled a surplus rural population to move to industrial areas.
The beginnings of the industrial revolution in Germany came in the textile industry, and was facilitated by eliminating tariff barriers through the Zollverein (customs union), starting in 1834. The takeoff stage of economic development came with the railroad revolution in the 1840s, which opened up new markets for local products, created a pool of middle managers, increased the demand for engineers, architects and skilled machinists and stimulated investments in coal and iron. The political decisions about the economy of Prussia (and after 1871 all Germany) were largely controlled by a coalition of "rye and iron", that is the Junker landowners of the east and the heavy industry of the west.
The economy of Germany during the Hitler era (1933 – 1945) developed a hothouse prosperity, supported with high government subsidies to those sectors that Hitler favored because they gave Nazi Germany military power and economic autarky, that is, economic independence from the global economy.
Adolf Hitler, believing that "the economy is something of secondary importance", left the details of the economic National Socialist Programme out of Mein Kampf. The Nazis rose to power while unemployment was very high, but achieved full employment later thanks to massive rearmament. Their pre-war economic policies were in the beginning the brainchildren of their non-Nazi Minister of Economics, Hjalmar Schacht, who was later made to focus more on war production, and was eventually replaced by a Nazi, Hermann Göring.
The trading policies of the Third Reich aimed at discouraging trade with countries outside the German sphere of influence, while making southern Europe largely dependent on Germany. Eventually, the Nazi party developed strong relationships with big business and abolished trade unions while real wages dropped by a fourth, and employees could not easily change employer. Taxes, though, were still low well into the war.
Already before the war, people undesirable to the regime were used as slave labour, and in 1944 they accounted for one quarter of the workers. Some historians, like the British Marxist Timothy Mason, have argued that the Second World War was a direct effect of the German economic system, which made expansionism necessary for domestic prosperity, indeed, survival; and which made Jingoism necessary for the quelling of class conflicts. Mason called the outbreak of World War II in 1939 a "flight into war" imposed on Hitler by an economic crisis.
Beginning with the replacement of the Reichsmark with the Deutsche Mark as legal tender, a lasting period of low inflation and rapid industrial growth was overseen by the government led by German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and his minister of economics, Ludwig Erhard, raising West Germany from total wartime devastation to one of the most developed nations in modern Europe.
Contrary to popular belief, the Marshall Plan, which was extended to also include Western Germany after it was realized that the suppression of the Western German economy was holding back the recovery of the rest of Europe, was not the main force behind the Wirtschaftswunder. The amount of monetary aid (which was in the form of loans) received by Germany through the Marshall Plan (about $1.65 billion in total) was far overshadowed by the amount the Germans had to pay back as war reparations and by the charges the Allies made on the Germans for the ongoing cost of occupation (about $2.4 billion per year).
In 1953 it was decided that Germany was to repay $1.1 billion of the aid it had received. The last repayment was made in June 1971. It is arguable, however, that recovery would have been possible without the initial economic boost as well as the modernization of infrastructure provided by the economic recovery plan.
Apart from these factors, hard work and long hours at full capacity among the population in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s and extra labor supplied by thousands of Gastarbeiter ("guest workers") provided a vital base for the economic upturn.
By the early 1950s the Soviet Union had seized reparations in the form of agricultural and industrial products and demanded further heavy reparation payments. Lower Silesia, which contained coal mines, and Stettin, a prominent natural port, were lost to Poland.
Exports from West Germany exceeded $323 billion in 1988. In the same year, East Germany exported $30.7 billion worth of goods; 65% to other communist states. East Germany had zero unemployment.
In 1976 the average annual GDP growth was roughly 5.9%.
The German economy practically stagnated in the beginning of the 2000s. The worst growth figures were achieved in 2002 (+1.4%), in 2003 (+1.0%) and in 2005 (+1.4%). Unemployment was also chronically high. Due to these problems, together with Germany's aging population, the welfare system came under considerable strain. This led the government to push through a wide-ranging programme of belt-tightening reforms, Agenda 2010, including the labour market reforms known as Hartz I - IV.
In the later part of the first decade of 2000 the world economy experienced high growth, from which Germany as a leading exporter also profited. Some credit the Hartz reforms with achieving high growth and declining unemployment but others contend that they resulted in a massive decrease in standards of living, and that its effects are limited and temporary.
The nominal GDP of Germany contracted in the second and third quarters of 2008, putting the country in a technical recession following a global and European recession cycle. German industrial output dropped to 3.6% in September vis-a-vis August. In January 2009 the German government under Angela Merkel approved a €50 billion ($70 billion) economic stimulus plan to protect several sectors from a downturn and a subsequent rise in unemployment rates. Germany exited the recession in the second and third quarters of 2009, mostly due to rebounding manufacturing orders and exports - primarily from outside the Euro Zone - and relatively steady consumer demand.
Germany is a founding member of the EU, the G8 and the G20, and was the world's largest exporter from 2003 to 2008. In 2011 it remained the third largest exporter and third largest importer. Most of the country's exports are in engineering, especially machinery, automobiles, chemical goods and metals. Germany is a leading producer of wind turbines and solar-power technology. Annual trade fairs and congresses are held in cities throughout Germany. 2011 was a record-breaking year for the German economy. German companies exported goods worth over €1 trillion ($1.3 trillion), the highest figure in history. The number of people in work has risen to 41.6 million, the highest recorded figure.
Through 2012, Germany's economy continued to be stronger relative to local neighboring nations.
As of December 2012[update], the CPI rate was 2.10 percent.
The following table lists the non-seasonally adjusted GDP growth in 1992-2012.
Of the world's 500 largest stock-market-listed companies measured by revenue in 2010, the Fortune Global 500, 37 are headquartered in Germany. 30 Germany-based companies are included in the DAX, the German stock market index. Well-known global brands are Mercedes-Benz, BMW, SAP, Siemens, Volkswagen, Adidas, Audi, Allianz, Porsche, Bayer, BASF, Bosch, and Nivea.
From 1991 to 2010, 40,301 mergers and acquisitions with an involvement of German firms with a total known value of 2,422 bil. EUR have been announced. The largest transactions since 1991 are: the acquisition of Mannesmann by Vodafone for 204.8 bil. EUR in 1999, the merger of Daimler-Benz with Chrysler to form DaimlerChrysler in 1998 valued at 36.3 bil. EUR.
The list includes the largest German companies by revenue in 2011:
|4.||Siemens AG||Berlin, München||74,000||6,300||360,000|
|5.||BASF SE||Ludwigshafen am Rhein||73,000||6,600||111,000|
|9.||Deutsche Telekom AG||Bonn||59,000||670||235,000|
|10.||Deutsche Post AG||Bonn||53,000||1,300||471,000|
|—||Deutsche Bank AG||Frankfurt am Main||2,160,000||4,300||101,000|
Germany as a federation is a polycentric country and does not have a single economic center. The stock exchange is located in Frankfurt am Main, the largest Media company (Bertelsmann AG) is headquartered in Gütersloh; the largest car manufacturers are in Wolfsburg, Stuttgart and München.
Germany is an advocate of closer European economic and political integration. Its commercial policies are increasingly determined by agreements among European Union (EU) members and EU single market legislation. Germany introduced the common European currency, the euro on 1 January 1999. Its monetary policy is set by the European Central Bank in Frankfurt.
The southern states ("Bundesländer"), especially Bayern, Baden-Württemberg and Hessen, are economically stronger than the northern states. One of Germany's traditionally strongest (and at the same time oldest) economic regions is the Ruhr area in the west, between Bonn and Dortmund. 27 of the country's 100 largest companies are located there. In recent years, however, the area, whose economy is based on natural resources and heavy industry, has seen a substantial rise in unemployment (2010: 8.7%).
The economy of Bayern and Baden-Württemberg, the states with the lowest number of unemployed people (2010: 4.5%, 4.9%), on the other hand, is based on high-value products. Important sectors are automobiles, electronics, aerospace and biomedicine, among others. Baden-Württemberg is an industrial center especially for automobile and machine building industry and the home of brands like Mercedes-Benz (Daimler), Porsche and Bosch.
With the reunification on 3 October 1990, Germany began the major task of reconciling the economic systems of the two former republics. Interventionist economic planning ensured a gradual increase up to the level of former western Germany. But the standard of living and annual income remains significantly higher in western German states. The modernisation and integration of the eastern German economy continues to be a long-term process scheduled to last until the year 2019, with annual transfers from west to east amounting to roughly $80 billion. The overall unemployment rate has consistently fallen since 2005 and reached a 20-year low in 2012.
- $25 billion Karl Albrecht
- $21.1 billion Dieter Schwarz
- $19.3 billion Theo Albrecht
- $18.4 billion Michael Otto & family
- $17.4 billion Susanne Klatten
- $14.9 billion Stefan Quandt
- $14.3 billion Georg Schaeffler
- $12.8 billion Johanna Quandt
- $10.4 billion Klaus-Michael Kühne
- $8.8 billion Hasso Plattner
Wolfsburg is the richest city in Germany with per capita income of $128,000. The following top 10 list of German cities with the highest income per person is based on a study by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research on July 31, 2013.
- $128,000 Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony
- $114,281 Frankfurt am Main, Hesse
- $108,347 Schweinfurt, Bavaria
- $104,000 Ingolstadt, Bavaria
- $99,389 Regensburg, Bavaria
- $92,525 Düsseldorf, North-Rhine Westphalia
- $92,464 Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Rhineland-Palatinate
- $91,630 Erlangen, Bavaria
- $91,121 Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg
- $88,692 Ulm, Baden-Württemberg
The German soil is relatively poor in raw materials. Only lignite (brown coal) and potash salt (Kalisalz) are available in significant quantities. However, the former GDR's Wismut mining company produced a total of 230,400 tonnes of uranium between 1947 and 1990 and made East Germany the fourth largest producer of uranium ore worldwide (largest in USSR's sphere of control) at the time. Oil, natural gas and other resources are, for the most part, imported from other countries.
Germany's bituminous coal deposits were created more than 300 million years ago from swamps which extended from the present-day South England, over the Ruhr area to Poland. Lignite deposits developed in a similar way, but during a later period, about 66 million years ago. Because the wood is not yet completely transformed into coal, brown coal contains less energy than bituminous coal.
Lignite is extracted in the extreme western and eastern parts of the country, mainly in Nordrhein-Westfalen, Sachsen and Brandenburg. Considerable amounts are burned in coal plants near to the mining areas, to produce electricity. Transporting lignite over far distances is not economically feasible, therefore the plants are located practically next to the extraction sites. Bituminous coal is mined in Nordrhein-Westfalen and Saarland. Most power plants burning bituminous coal operate on imported material, therefore the plants are located not only near to the mining sites, but throughout the country.
Germany has a social market economy characterised by a highly qualified labour force, a developed infrastructure, a large capital stock, a low level of corruption, and a high level of innovation. It has the largest national economy in Europe, the fourth largest by nominal GDP in the world, and ranked fifth by GDP (PPP) in 2009.
In 2010 agriculture, forestry, and mining accounted for only 0.9% of Germany’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employed only 2.4% of the population, down from 4% in 1991. Agriculture is extremely productive, and Germany is able to cover 90% of its nutritional needs with domestic production. Germany is the third largest agricultural producer in the European Union after France and Italy. Germany’s principal agricultural products are potatoes, wheat, barley, sugar beets, fruit, and cabbages.
Despite the country’s high level of industrialization, almost one-third of its territory is covered by forest. The forestry industry provides for about two-thirds of domestic consumption of wood and wood products, so Germany is a net importer of these items.
Industry and construction accounted for 29% of gross domestic product in 2008, and employed 29.7% of the workforce. Germany excels in the production of automobiles, machinery, electrical equipment and chemicals. With the manufacture of 5.2 million vehicles in 2009, Germany was the world’s fourth largest producer and largest exporter of automobiles. German automotive companies enjoy an extremely strong position in the so-called premium segment, with a combined world market share of about 90%.
Small- to medium-sized manufacturing firms (Mittelstand companies) which specialize in technologically advanced niche products and are often family-owned and form major part of the German economy. It is estimated that about 1500 German companies occupy a top three position in their respective market segment worldwide. In about two thirds of all industry sectors German companies belong to the top three competitors.
In 2008 services constituted 69% of gross domestic product (GDP), and the sector employed 67.5% of the workforce. The subcomponents of services are financial, renting, and business activities (30.5%); trade, hotels and restaurants, and transport (18%); and other service activities (21.7%).
The largest annual international trade fairs and congresses are held in several German cities such as Hanover, Frankfurt, and Berlin.
Germany is the world's fifth largest consumer of energy, and two-thirds of its primary energy was imported in 2002. In the same year, Germany was Europe's largest consumer of electricity, totaling 512.9 terawatt-hours. Government policy promotes energy conservation and the development of renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, biomass, hydroelectric, and geothermal energy. As a result of energy-saving measures, energy efficiency has been improving since the beginning of the 1970s. The government has set the goal of meeting half the country's energy demands from renewable sources by 2050.
In 2000, the red-green coalition under Chancellor Schröder and the German nuclear power industry agreed to phase out all nuclear power plants by 2021. The conservative coalition under Chancellor Merkel reversed this decision in January 2010, electing to keep plants open. The nuclear disaster of the Japanese nuclear plant Fukushima in March 2011 however, changed the political climate fundamentally: Older nuclear plants have been shut down. And a general phase out until 2020 or 2022 is now probable. Renewable energy yet still plays a more modest role in energy consumption, though German solar and windpower industries play a leading role worldwide.
In 2009, Germany consumed energy from the following sources: Oil 34.6%, Natural gas 21.7%, Lignite 11.4%, Bituminous coal 11.1%, Nuclear power 11.0%, Hydro and wind power 1.5%, Others 9.0%.
There are 3 major entry points for oil pipelines: in the northeast (the Druzhba pipeline, coming from Gdańsk), west (coming from Rotterdam) and southeast (coming from Nelahozeves). The oil pipelines of Germany do not constitute a proper network, and sometimes only connect two different locations. Major oil refineries are located in or near the following cities: Schwedt, Spergau, Vohburg, Burghausen, Karlsruhe, Cologne, Gelsenkirchen, Lingen, Wilhelmshaven, Hamburg and Heide.
Germany's network of natural gas pipelines, on the other hand, is dense and well-connected. Imported pipeline gas comes mostly from Russia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Although gas imports from Russia have been historically reliable, even during the cold war, recent price disputes between Gazprom and the former Soviet states, such as Ukraine, have also affected Germany. As a result, high political importance is placed on the construction of the Nord Stream pipeline, running from Vyborg in Russia along the Baltic sea to Greifswald in Germany. This direct connection avoids third-party transit countries.
With its central position in Europe, Germany is an important transportation hub. This is reflected in its dense and modern transportation networks. The extensive motorway (Autobahn) network that ranks worldwide third largest in its total length and features a lack of blanket speed limits on the majority of routes.
Germany has established a polycentric network of high-speed trains. The InterCityExpress or ICE is the most advanced service category of the Deutsche Bahn and serves major German cities as well as destinations in neighbouring countries. The train maximum speed varies between 200 km/h and 320 km/h (125-200 mph). Connections are offered at either 30-minute, hourly, or two-hourly intervals.
The largest German airports are the Frankfurt International Airport and the Munich International Airport, both are global hubs of Lufthansa. Other major airports are Berlin Tegel, Berlin Schönefeld, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Hanover, Cologne-Bonn, Leipzig/Halle and in the future Berlin Brandenburg International Airport.
Germany is also one of the leading countries in developing and using green technologies. Companies specializing in green technology have an estimated turnover of €200 billion. Especially the expertise in engineering, science and research of Germany is eminently respectable.
The lead markets of Germany's green technology industry are power generation, sustainable mobility, material efficiency, energy efficiency, waste management and recycling, sustainable water management.
With regard to triadic patents Germany is in third place after the USA and Japan. With more than 26,500 registrations for patents submitted to the European Patent Office, Germany is the leading European nation. Siemens, Bosch and BASF, with almost 5,000 registrations for patents between them in 2008, are among the Top 5 of more than 35,000 companies registering patents. Together with the USA and Japan, with regard to patents for nano, bio and new technologies Germany is one of the world’s most active nations. With around one third of triadic patents Germany leads the way worldwide in the field of vehicle emission reduction.
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