Eine intelligente Betrachtung der deutschen Handelsüberschüsse

In der letzten Woche habe ich den Economist-Titel zum Anlass genommen, über die deutschen Wirtschaftsaussichten zu schreiben. Dabei standen die Risiken im Fokus. Andererseits sehe ich bekanntlich die Handelsüberschüsse auch kritisch.

Die FT nun mit einer sehr fundierten Betrachtung:

  • Zunächst die banale Feststellung: “A claim is not stronger because of the number of people who agree with it, however; and the criticism of Germany’s external surplus is too often based on poor economics.” bto: Bekanntlich kritisiere ich die Überschüsse auch, allerdings wegen der damit verbundenen Kreditvergabe ins Ausland.
  • There are three different ways one could argue that the German surplus is damaging. By far the most common one is an application of short-term Keynesianism, which is the argument the Economist makes. The claim is, roughly, that by importing much less than it exports, Germany is saving too much, and this is parasitical on aggregate demand generated by other economies at a time of deficient demand overall.”bto: der Punkt der entzogenen Kaufkraft.
  • “(…) the impulse from net trade on aggregate demand is the change in the external balance, rather than its level (…) So long as imports, exports and other macroeconomic aggregates grow at the same rate, a stable external balance goes along with the same steady growth of aggregate demand. ” bto: O. k., einfach gesagt ist das nur ein Problem, wenn die Exporte überproportional schnell wachsen. Verstehe ich.
  • That means the accusation against Germany comes about five years too late. There was indeed a strong jump in the nation’s trade surplus half a decade ago, at a time when the world was still struggling to come out of recession. But that surplus has not changed much since. The non-oil goods trade surplus has been stable, and the overall current account has crept up somewhat because the services deficit has shrunk a little and imported oil become cheaper.”bto: Das heißt, dass wir in den letzten Jahren keinen Vorteil aus den Exporten gezogen haben – und auch deshalb eigentlich nicht die Gewinner sind oder?
  • There are, of course, some trading partners whose recoveries are still struggling. That includes parts of the eurozone periphery (…). The eurozone recovery is some way behind the rest of the world. But only about one-fifth of Germany’s current account surplus is with the rest of the eurozone, and the bulk of that is with France (…).” bto: Das belegt, dass wir nicht die Gewinner des Euro sind!
  • “(…) the trade balance has remained near zero after several of those countries have returned to growth. (…) the fall in deficits with Germany cushioned the eurozone-periphery countries’ domestic downturns, supporting demand that would otherwise have fallen even more precipitously.” bto: Wir haben also auch über mehr Importe geholfen.
  • “(…) the increases in the German surplus happened largely vis-à-vis countries such as the US, UK and China (…)” bto: Das findet zumindest Donald Trump nicht gut.
  • “(…) two other possible reasons to criticise the surplus: because it could lead to international financial instability, and because it may reflect misallocated resources within Germany itself.” bto: Letzteres sehe ich genauso!
  • “(…) international financial stability. A recurring flow of asymmetric cross-border transactions generates a stock of cross-border financial claims. (…) eventually such claims will be larger than what it is possible to honour and the accumulation will stop in one way or another. As the eurozone debt crisis shows, the way it stops can be traumatic for all parties.” bto: mein Kernargument seit Jahren. Wir sind super-blöd.
  • “The question is less how big Germany’s claims on the rest of the world will or should grow than how to ensure that their accumulation will not cause financial instability. One solution would be that German savings abroad yield low enough returns to keep the total amount within reasonable bounds. Some think this is indeed the case. (…) the German NIIP has grown strongly but by less than the cumulated surpluses would indicate. In early 2015, Tilford estimated that the growth in Germany’s foreign wealth from 2007 fell about €580bn short of its accumulated savings in the same period.” bto: Wahnsinn! Das ist noch schlimmer als bei den Eichhörnchen.
  • Deshalb: Germany’s low level of domestic spending as a share of economic output should be addressed by a different economic policy: it is bad for Germany itself. bto: Das kann man gar nicht laut genug sagen!
  • An increase in investment, both public and private, would be beneficial in its own right. Insufficient investment is a serious economic ailment in Germany. (…) In a rapidly ageing society the need for faster labour productivity growth is urgent, since the ratio of workers to non-workers will just get worse. And labour productivity is achieved, in part, by increasing the amount of capital.” bto: Das bedeutet übrigens mehr Automatisierung statt unproduktiver Zuwanderung!
  • “The main argument against boosting domestic demand in Germany is that the country employs its resources fully and so it would simply show up in higher inflation.” bto: Das stimmt theoretisch und vor allem für die nicht bzw. schwer handelbaren Güter.
  • “(…) Germany is a big enough part of the eurozone (…) so that higher interest rates would arrive sooner. (and) even in Germany inflation is stubbornly low. (…) That suggests, like in many other countries, that low unemployment may hide the amount of slack in the economy.” bto: also wenig struktureller Inflationsdruck.
  • “(…) if the current account changes, it would be doing so as a mere balancing item both economically and politically it would be the untargeted consequence of a domestic spending shift Germany should pursue for its own sake.” bto: Das sehe ich genauso angesichts der schlechten Anlage der Handelsüberschüsse.

→ FT (Anmeldung erforderlich): “Germany-bashing falls flat”, 10. Juli 2017

→ FT (Anmeldung erforderlich): “How to tame unsustainable capital flows”, 11. Juli 2017

→ FT (Anmeldung erforderlich): “Germany can spend more on itself”, 12. Juli 2017