German export growth remained strong in 2011

11 Jan 2012 by Jim Fickett.

There have been many dire predictions that German exports would stall due to the euro crisis, and these predictions were renewed today when one official mentioned that the German economy may have shrunk in the fourth quarter. Perhaps exports will drop. But focusing on facts, export growth remained healthy through 2011.

Today an official from Germany's federal statistics office Destatis mentioned in a press conference that the German economy may have shrunk 0.25% in Q4. This is not an official datum yet; the first official release on the Q4 economy is due in February, but the comment provided great fodder for headlines.

Of course exports are one of the great strengths of the German economy, and many have worried about the effect of the euro zone crisis on exports. Many economists have predicted that Germany's insistence on austerity in the periphery would come back to bite in the form of lower German exports. A typical quote from today:

Simon Junker, an expert with the DIW institute, warned that expectations for the economy in 2012 were damped by the eurozone crisis and that both exports and imports would slow down.

“Germany’s strongly export-driven economy will not be able to elude the slowdown of the global economy,” Junker said. “Especially German exports will suffer from the eurozone crisis.”

It certainly won't surprise me if German exports do slow down. But since I'm more interested, generally speaking, with what is, rather than what might be, I decided to take a look at the actual export data. So far, German exports seem to be doing quite well (data through Nov 2011):

Yes, growth probably is slowing, but it is hard to be sure even of that.

(And yes, I know that factory orders are down. But I've noted before that factory orders in US data do not predict actual output(Industrial production is the key manufacturing indicator). So let's just wait and see.)