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German Finance Minister: Economy on the Way Up

Hans Eichel says the worst of the economic downturn is over, both in Germany and the rest of the world


Can the euro super start the German economy?

As his country battles unemployment and grapples with the challenges of a new currency, Germany’s finance minister said he believed the economic situation in Germany and the rest of the world was about to take a turn for the better.

"It seems that the worst is over," Hans Eichel told the German-Chinese Chamber of Commerce on Saturday during a short trip through China. "There are signs pointing to the end of the recession, and not just in the United States."

He said the German government expected economic growth to accelerate upwards in the first quarter of 2002. Germany’s economic ministry released figures showing that business expectations and the business climate took a turn for the better in November.

The new currency would also have a positive effect on growth, Eichel said. Though the euro was in no position to challenge the dollar as the strongest currency, Eichel said the world’s newest currency could come close and provide a boost to European economies.

Eichel stands by growth prediction

Eichel’s office denied reports that he was going to reduce his German growth prediction even further. In November, Eichel retreated on initial predictions that the economy would grow 2.25 percent in 2002.

The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported this week that Eichel planned to reduce his 1.25 percent prediction even further, to 0.75 percent.

But Eichel's spokesman Jörg Müller said there was no data that indicated any change in Eichel’s earlier prediction.