2018 has started on a confident note. After a very strong end to 2017, when global economic growth probably accelerated back over 4%, impressive indicators in early 2018 mean that there is no room for scepticism: growth looks like it is here to stay. There is plenty of evidence to support that view, including exceptionally loose monetary conditions at the global level, an upturn in business investment and international trade, a widespread decline in unemployment, and at least temporary support from the US tax reforms adopted late last year. To cap it all, wealth effects are increasingly visible, driven by exceptionally high valuations for financial and real-estate assets.
Like all crises, the present one provides a fertile breeding ground for dogmatic, cookie-cutter statements and clichés that don’t always square with reality. So perhaps the best way to avoid making disastrous decisions on the momentous issues of today is to take a good, hard look at our past. This view was what prompted us to publish the following series of charts, which sum up twenty years of comparative economic history in France and Germany.
Growth, consumption, employment, real estate, debt, demographics, and foreign trade are the themes we have covered here, in the hope of offering the reader greater insight into the forces at work in the euro area’s two leading economies.