Green Shoots In Germany and Estonia?

Well, I am busying myself this morning scratching around looking for green shoots in Turkey. But even as I was digging for these I couldn’t help notice this coming in over the radar from Germany, courtesy of Bloomberg:

German exports fell more than economists forecast in April as the global crisis restrained demand, keeping Europe’s largest economy mired in a recession. Sales abroad, adjusted for working days and seasonal changes, fell 4.8 percent from March, when they rose a revised 0.3 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said today. Economists expected a 0.1 percent decline in April, according to the median of 10 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

So German exports have not touched bottom yet – they are still falling. Since the German economy is export dependent, then this implies the obvious, the German economy is still contracting. I don’t think anyone ever doubted this, but looking at the way some of the material has been presented recently, it wasn’t always clear.

Indeed year on year, exports fell by 22.9%, the fastest rate so far, although since these annual stats are not working day corrected I wouldn’t read too much into that just yet, since you really do need to average across March and April due to the Easter impact.


Another country where rather unsurprisingly we aren’t seeing too many green shoots at the moment is Estonia, and only today the statistics office reported that exports decreased by 38% and imports by 41% (year on year) in April.

As a result the Estonian trade deficit rose for the second month running, and hit 1.8 billion kroons. So what we are seeing here is a distinct move in the wrong direction, on both counts.

We also learnt from the Estonian stats office today that GDP contracted by 15.1% (year on year) in the first three months of this year – a figure which was revised down from the earlier flash estimate of 15.6%.

Compared to the 4th quarter of last year, seasonally and working-day adjusted GDP decreased by 6.1% (more on all this in another post).

Finally on the green shoots front for today, we could note that Hungary’s industrial production plummeted in April by 25.3% (year on year) according to working day adjusted data released by the stats office. This compares with a year on year contraction of 19.6% in March.

Month on month there was seasonally and working day adjusted drop of 5.1% in April, following 4.5% growth in March. So again, output is still falling, and no bottom has been reached.

This latest Hungarian data is particularly unpalatable following a number of reports which had been left open the possibility that the downturn in the Hungarian economy had ground to a halt, or at least staretd to decelerate. If industrial output shows similar weakness in other East European countries then this does not augur well for future German and eurozone output, since Hungary plays a significant role in the early stages of the European manufacturing production chain.

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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

5 thoughts on “Green Shoots In Germany and Estonia?

  1. Hi Edward,

    the data for Slovakia, industrial production in April is a 24,8% contraction y-o-y. Although there is no month on month data other indicators (industrial production compared to the average month in 2005) suggest a sharp decline compared to this year’s March as well.

    In Romania the “crude” rate of decline month on month was 5,(% the seasonally and workday adjusted a 0,7% growth. Year on year it was a 9,=% contraction.

    That’s what I was capable to collect.

  2. One graph I’d love to see is GDP (or even better, GDP per capita adjusted PPP) over the years, for a number of countries. What we always see is growth of GDP, but never the actual curve over time.

    Do you know where I can find it (without account to any economic database, of course :D)?

    Many Thanks

  3. Pingback: More Reasons to Be Cheerful | Sterling Performance | BNET

  4. Good luck with looking for green shoots in months-old data! A brilliant idea where to start from!

    But maybe the 2009 current account surpluses (happening as we speak) in the Baltics WITHOUT devaluations would qualify as green shoots? No? Well, how is current account surplus WITH devaluation going to be better that WITHOUT it?

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