A recent uncertainty envelops economic activity in Germany, as an initial survey revealed a contraction in business activity during July, raising concerns about the possibility of a recession in the second half of the year.
The evidence of this decline can be found in the decrease of the Hamburg Commercial Bank’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), as reported by Standard & Poor’s Global. The PMI dropped to 48.3 in July, compared to 50.6 in June, falling short of analysts’ expectations, which had predicted a reading of 50.3.
Indeed, this is the first time the index has surpassed the fifty-point mark, which separates growth from contraction, since January. This reinforces concerns about the German economy’s downturn.
The German economy is facing the challenges of a downturn
The observed decline in the index is mainly attributed to the manufacturing sector, as its Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) plummeted to 38.8, down from 40.6, indicating a rapid decrease in demand for goods.
The service sector was not immune to this slowdown, as it continued to experience sluggish growth in July. The sector’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) reading declined from 54.1 to 52.0, surpassing the earlier expectations of 53.1 points.
On a related note, the coalition government in Germany has reached an agreement on next year’s budget after tough rounds of negotiations. This agreement includes significant cutbacks following a prolonged period of overspending, along with an increase in military expenditure.
This decision comes following a request from the Minister of Finance, Christian Lindner, who belongs to the Free Democratic Party, to significantly reduce government spending.
Despite the disputes that lasted for several months, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government approved the 2024 budget proposal.
This decision marks a crucial milestone for Minister Lindner, who made it following a wave of massive spending to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the energy crisis resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Despite the proposed cuts, it is expected that spending will remain at its highest levels, with an estimated 445.7 billion euros next year, compared to the planned level of 476.3 billion euros for the year 2023.
Experts expect borrowing to remain high at 25% above the 2019 level, with a tendency to further reduce it in 2024, where it is projected to reach 16.6 billion euros compared to 45.6 billion in 2023.
It is mentioned that in late May of last year, the German Federal Statistical Office revealed that the largest economy in Europe contracted by 0.3 percent in the first three months of this year, marking the second consecutive decline as a definition of a recession.
According to its estimates, there was also a 0.5 percent decrease in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the fourth quarter of the last year.
Despite these challenges, the German Central Bank reported a modest growth in the German economy in the second quarter of this year, following a period of contraction that lasted for two consecutive quarters.
Despite not specifically specifying the gains of this growth, it is considered a positive indication of economic recovery.
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