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Economy in Brief

German Financial Experts More Hopeful
by Louise Curley  December 11, 2012

The 278 German financial experts participating in the latest ZEW survey, which took place from November 26th to December 10th, were more optimistic than they were last month. While they appraised the current situation only a bit more optimistically--the optimists exceed the pessimist by 5.7%, compared with 5.4% in November--they were much more optimistic about conditions six months ahead. Whereas the pessimists exceeded the optimists by 15.7% in November, the optimists exceeded the pessimists by 6.9% in December--a positive change of 22.6 percentage points. Moreover, this is the first preponderance of optimists regarding economic expectations in Germany since May of this year, as can be seen in the first chart. More positive data from the United States and China released in early December may have encouraged the investors and analysts.

For the Euro Area, as a whole, the financial experts see a slight improvement in the current condition of the area, from an excess of pessimists over optimists of 80.3% in November to 79.9% in December. The change could merely reflect the improvement in the appraisal of Germany's current condition and mean little change in the appraisals of the rest of the countries in the Area. The fact that the December expectations for the Euro Area are more positive than those for Germany and have been less negative in the preceding four months suggests, however, that the outlooks for some countries of the Euro Area other than Germany have also improved. Moreover, while expectation for the Euro Area have often been negative this year, they have been less negative than the appraisals of current conditions as can be seen in the second chart, suggesting that the participants in the survey are beginning to see some positive developments for months ahead.

ZEW Survey 2012
Dec Nov Oct Sep Aug Jul Jun May
GERMANY (Percent Balances)
  Current Conditions 5.7 5.4 10.0 12.6 18.2 21.1 33.6 44.1
  Expectations 6.9 -15.7 -11.5 -18.2 -25.5 -19.6 -16.9 10.8
EURO AREA (Percent Balances)
  Current Conditions -79.9 -80.3 -79.4 -76.3 -75.1 -72.9 -73.2 -60.2
  Expectations 7.6 -2.6 -1.4 -3.8 -21.2 -22.3 -20.1 -2.4
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