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Economy in Brief

German IFO Survey Shows Little Change in the Dismal Appraisal of the Business Climate
by Louise Curley February 24, 2009

The latest release of the IFO survey of German entrepreneurs engaged in industry and trade shows little change in their dismal appraisal of the business climate. The overall business climate indicator declined from 83.0 (2000=100) in January to 82.6 in February to a new all time low. Concern over current conditions outweighed a slightly less negative appraisal of the outlook for the next six months. The indicator for current conditions declined from 86.8 to 84.3 while that for the next six months rose from 79.5 to 80.9. All three measures are below or, close to, their all time lows, as can be seen in the first chart.

The indexes are based on the balance of opinions expressed by the participants in the survey. The balance of opinion data are published as well as the indexes, and, in the first release of the data, only the balance of opinion data for the detailed business sectors are given. Among the major business sectors, manufacturers are the most pessimistic and they became more so in February, as the excess of pessimists rose from 40.0% in January to 42.8%. Those engaged in construction and trade were less negative. Wholesalers, however, became more pessimistic in February, going to -27.8% from -25.4% in January. The climate in construction improved to -24.5% in February from -29.5% in January. The comparable figures for retail trade were -24.3% and 26.5%. The balance of opinions for the major sectors are shown in the second chart.

GERMANY  Feb 09 Jan  09  Dec 08  Nov 08  Oct 08 Sep 08 Aug 08
IFO Survey 
Business Climate (2000=100) 82.6 83.0 82.7 85.9 90.1 92.7 94.6
  Current Conditions (2000=100) 84.3 86.8 88.8 94.8 99.9 99.6 103.0
  Condition 6 Months Ahead (2000=100) 80.9 79.5 76.9 77.8 81.4 86.9 86.8
Business Climate by Sector  (Percent Balance) 
Total -35.4 -34.4 -35.2 -28.8 -20.5 -15.2 -11.4
  Manufacturing -42.8 -40.0 -39.9 -29.3 -19.2 -12.0 -7.3
  Construction -24.5 -29.5 -30.3 -30.1 -27.7 -25.2 -26.5
  Wholesale Trade -27.8 -25.4 -26.2 -21.8 -15.3 -10.9 -5.7
  Retail Trade -24.3 -26.5 -30.4 -33.2 -25.5 -24.5 -21.5
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