German sentiment down sharply

Christopher Dembik

Head of Macro Analysis

Summary:  The latest ZEW survey of economic sentiment in Germany gave EU investors another reason to worry.


The latest ZEW survey of German economic sentiment slumped to -24.7 versus an expected -11.3. Since the beginning of the year, economic sentiment can be seen evolving below the long-term average of 20.3. All sectors except for chemicals/pharmaceuticals are declining but the biggest and most worrying drop in current conditions can be observed in the automotive sector, which matched the low point registered in July of this year, itself the lowest reading since August 2012.
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Investor confidence is always linked to political stability and the current outlook does not look very good for the euro area. Brexit and the Italian budget are key concerns, but as the ZEW survey clearly points out, protectionist tendencies and potential US tariffs on German auto imports are the key risk.

As mentioned in a previous analysis, vehicle sales of leading European car brands in the US in May 2018 came in large part down to German carmakers. In the case of auto import tariffs, they will be the first ones to suffer. Though the Trump administration has been recently targeting China, it cannot be ruled out that it will turn to Europe and Germany next.

This survey confirms that the growth outlook is clouded and that lower growth is coming to Germany at the worst possible time, and in a context of lower liquidity and rising political risk. It is yet another macro data point suggesting that investors need be careful. 
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