Germany’s low unemployment is in large part due to the ‘Hartz Reforms’, which started as early as 2003 and have reduced the long-run rate of unemployment by 1.1%. That is the central finding of research by Matthias Hertweck and Oliver Sigrist, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s 2013 annual conference.
Unemployment rates across much of Europe have surged to unprecedented levels in recent years, particularly among the southern countries. In contrast, German unemployment has continued to fall even during the Great Recession. The authors conclude:
‘Our results build a solid basis for the macroeconomic effectiveness of such labour market reforms. This is particularly important for policy-makers across Europe who are currently planning to undertake similar structural reforms.’
The scale and depth of the unemployment crisis in Europe is confirmed by fresh figures released by Euro Stat. Unemployment in the Euro Zone was 12.0% in February 2013 and the jobless rate for the European Union as a whole was 10.9%. Last month there were 26.3 million people counted as out of work in the twenty-seven countries within the single market, 19 million of whom live in Euro Zone countries. In the last year alone, unemployment in the Euro Zone has jumped by over 1.7 million but this aggregate figure hides large country differences and persistent regional and local variations. Here is the contextual data to take into the exam:
The economics news, and this blog, has recently featured the debate between those who favour more government spending on public infrastructure and those who favour sticking to the role of austerity, in the search for growth - see the debate (or spat) between Krugman and Sachs, Vince Cable's article in the New Statesman and Liam Fox's speech to the IEA last week for a range of different views. The idea that more UK spending on 'shovel-ready projects' (if such a thing exists) would help to kick start the economy through multiplied growth of GDP suggests that we don't spend enough. And this view would be borne out by those who suffer damaged car tyres from potholes, hold-ups on the roads and railways from lack of maintenance, and delayed or re-routed air travel when the airports can't cope with adverse weather. However, an article in the Wall Street Journal this weekend suggests that the UK's spending is well ahead of other countries,and that Germany in particular has a real problem with aging, collapsing infrastructure.
Evaluating the UK’s macro performance outside of the Euro Zone
- Decision made in 2003 that the UK would remain outside
of the single currency
- UK remains a full member of the single market
- Supportive of further EU enlargement but distanced from deeper fiscal / banking intregration
Crucial question both in the short and medium term is whether non-participation in the Euro makes a significant difference to key macro outcomes
- Real GDP growth, estimated Trend growth (LRAS)
- Core CPI inflation and inflation expectations
- Employment and unemployment rates
- Trade balances (with EU and beyond)
- Trends in relative productivity and per capita incomes
Having German exchange students in my lesson has provided a super opportunity to discuss the position of the German economy within the Euro Area and to compare and contrast macroeconomic indicators between the UK and Europe's largest economy. Here is a selection of some of the video clips that have been used as prompts for discussion.read more...»
The OECD's world economic outlook is published twice and year and is a heavyweight publication with plenty of great relevant macro for ambitious A2 students. I have linked below to their latest report - including a streamed presentation on their key data forecasts and emphasis on some of the underlying challenges facing OECD countries.read more...»
The balance of economic power is expected to shift dramatically over the coming half century, with fast-growing emerging market economies accounting for an ever-increasing share of global output, according to new OECD research. Here are some links to their report and to media coverage.
I am launching into a short course in international trade, balance of payments and links to economic development issues. The standard fare is inescapable and there will be plenty of opportunity to cover theories of comparative and competitive advantage, evaluate the costs and benefits of protectionism and look at key trends in the balance of payments, terms of trade and capital accounts for developed and developing countries.
This time, in an attempt to freshen things up I am starting by looking at the work of Cesar Hidalgo and Richard Hausman at the MIT Media Lab and the Observatory of Economic Complexity. I first came across their work whilst reading Tim Harford's last book Adapt. They are mapping vast amounts of trade data from across the world to explore the extent to which export complexity, dynamic advantage and per capita incomes are connected. The data visualisations are tremendously interesting and I will be asking my Year 13 students to explore their site and choose some data of their own that sheds light on revealed comparative advantage in the world economy.read more...»
What a fabulous new resource for students and teachers! She's German. He's Greek. Can their ten year relationship survive the pressure? This great short comedy from director Bob Denham is jam packed with references to the Euro debt crisis - show it to your class and see how many the A-Level student gets (offer a prize!)
The World Bank has this short 3 minute video on measuring povertyread more...»
A useful series of flow charts on the BBC Business Webpage outlining some of the causes and effects of the present problems of the Eurozone economies.
A good starting point for AS students and teachers preparing for A2 Economics courses.
How much spare capacity does an economy have to meet a rise in demand? How close is an economy to operating at its productive potential? Has the recession damaged the economy’s productive potential? These sorts of questions all link to an important concept – the output gap. The output gap is the difference between the actual level of national output and the estimated potential level and is usually expressed as a percentage of the level of potential output.read more...»
Here is a revision blog on some of the key economic challenges facing the seventeen member nations of the Euro Zone or Euro Arearead more...»
Germany is always an economy worth looking at by students keen to deepen their awareness and understanding of the European economy. There has been a number of good background news stories on the changing centre of gravity in the German and the EU economy and in this blog I am providing links to some of them - all ideal for prompting discussion in the classroom.read more...»
Here is a one minute news clip packed with nuggets of good business economics. Profits have more than doubled at German car-maker Volkswagen after the company delivered a record number of vehicles last year. It delivered more than 8.2 million vehicles, up almost 15% on 2010. Listen and watch for information on their acquisitions and competitive strategy especially when targeting fast growing markets in emerging economies especially China, India and Brazil.read more...»
It’s time to start treating our A2 economics students like 9 year-olds…in a kind-hearted way. How? With this highly creative and engaging piece of analysis by the market analysts at JP Morgan.
The Eurozone crisis is both political AND economic, with the underlying issue one of who pays the bill for nation and bank bailouts. The political impasse in Europe over the crisis is difficult to understand. But this Lego-inspired graphic does a pretty good job of explaining who wants what. Follow the commentary underneath the graphic to hear the story.
Hand it out to your A2 students and see if they can make sense of it.
Stephanie Flanders has posted a very useful blog examining Eurozone growth, and whether the UK can best be compared to France and Germany or to Greece, Portugal and Spain. She starts with Ed Balls rejection of the Chancellor’s habit of likening the position of the UK economy to those of the southern states which are struggling so badly at present; the Shadow Chancellor believes a better comparison would be with our traditional competitors in northern Europe.read more...»
Many of Europe’s newer member states have outperformed established EU countries since they joined the single market in 2004 and 2007. And as a result there has been a process of convergence in average living standards and improved employment opportunities. Europe’s new nations have injected extra dynamism into the region despite inevitable teething problems along the way.
For students revising aspects of EU enlargement here is a streamed version of a presentation I gave to a Tutor2u event in London a few weeks ago
A streamed version of the presentation is available here
Related news issues
Germany expects influx of Polish workers (BBC news, April 2011)
An excellent resource for Unit 2 and Unit 4 macroeconomics. Vishnu Padmanabhan from Timetric has this excellent look at the impact of the recession on real GDP growth in OECD countries. Which countries did best and worst in the recession? It turns out that Australia, Poland, Israel and South Korea were the countries least affected by the crisis and all avoided a full-blown recession - experiencing instead a soft landing. Here is Vishnu’s article. Our own growing selection of Timetric charts can be found by scrolling down to the bottom of this blog entry.
The OECD has just produced their annual review of Going for Growth - a largely supply-side look at policies designed to promote long-term growth in productive potential in the world economy. Details can be found here.
The term “relative deflation” is generally used to describe an economy with an inflation rate, which has not necessarily descended into negative territory, but is markedly lower than comparable economies. Over time, a low relative rate of inflation can lead to an improvement in price competitiveness in international markets, assuming that there has not been a compensating change in the exchange rate between two countries.
In our data example shown below we track consumer price inflation in Ireland, Spain and Germany. For most of the period shown, the annual rate of inflation in Germany was substantially lower than two of her partners in the European single currency area - this is an example of relative deflation.read more...»
In this Timetric chart blog we look at unemployment rates for a selection of country groups - these automatically updated charts will track what is happening to the standardised jobless rates for clusters of countries starting with one that includes the Euro Area, Germany, USA, UK and Japan. The second chart is the unemployment rates in the so-called PIIGS - Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spainread more...»
For many years Germany was criticised for persistently high unemployment rates and an inflexible labour market. But having weathered the worst of the steep contraction in global manufacturing output and trade in 2009 the German economy is being propelled forward by a strong surge in export sales. Unemployment is falling and for the first time in recent memory, the official jobless rate in East Germany is now lower than the state of California!
Here is an updated twenty five slide streamed presentation on macroeconomic developments in the 27 countries of the EU with a particular focus on the Euro Area and UK/EU comparisons.read more...»
After a terrible 2009 in which real GDP dropped by 4.9%, the German economy has posted the biggest increase in her quarterly GDP since West was unified with the East. German gross domestic product expanded by 2.2 per cent rate in the second quarter compared with the previous three months. German industry is riding on the back of a rebound in demand in the global economy (her manufacturing businesses are closely tied to swings in the world economic cycle) allied to the competitive boost of the recent depreciation of the euro against the US dollar.
Steve Evans reports on the surging German economy
Some of the feature articles in the special report on Germany available in this week’s Economist can be found here
This is a good short video to show on the importance of innovation for the future health of the German economy - with a twist in the tail at the end as we meet a maveric investor!
This revised and extended revision presentation examines the debate about Europe’s Single Currency.read more...»
The Bosch Group - a privately owned German multinational manufacturing business has announced the closure of it’s car parts factory in south Wales with the loss of hundreds of jobs. With 900 jobs going at the factory itself, the final scale of extra unemployment will be significantly higher because of the negative multiplier effects for the local and regional economy.read more...»
1/ BBC News Hard Talk - Will 2010 see a shift in economic power to the East?
2/ BBC News - National Institute suggests that the UK recession is over see also The Times - Britain’s recession the steepest for 88 years
3/ Telegraph - Oxfam donations fall in recession
4/ Justin Wolfers / Freakonomics - In defence of GDP
5/ BBC news - German economy shrinks by 5% in 2009 - see also Latvian recession “worst in history” says economist