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12.10.2017

IfW-Gutachten für das BMF über die Optionen, den Handelsbilanzüberschuss zu reduzieren

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(...) In defending Germany’s stance this time around, Mr. Schäuble can cite a new study his ministry commissioned from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy showing that Germany’s trade surplus – around 8 percent of GDP last year – is structural and there is little government policy can do to reduce it. The Kiel study, a copy of which has been made available to Handelsblatt, says that at the very best, government actions could reduce that surplus by less than a percentage point. The arguments are familiar. Berlin’s hands are tied because German law now allows the federal government to run a structural deficit of only 0.35 percent of GDP, ruling out any massive deficit stimulus for imports. Similarly, Berlin has no control over interest or currency rates because the joint euro currency is in the hands of the European Central Bank, where Germany is only one voice among 19 member states.

“Because of political or technical restrictions, virtually no single measure could be carried out that would significantly, say by two percentage points, reduce the current account surplus,” the Kiel institute said. (The current account surplus reflects short-term capital flows as well as trade but is roughly parallel.)

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