Every year in fall and spring six top economic think tanks publish their forecast for the German economy. Their predictions are taken very seriously by the government and industry. But who are these experts?
The big six predict which way the economy is headed.
Although there are several more institutes engaged in predicting the future state of Germany's economy, there are six primary think tanks business and political leaders listen to whenever they publish their twice annual reports. Once in the spring and again in the fall these leading institutes set the overall tone for discussions on the economic growth, budget deficit, inflation rate and unemployment.
Kiel Institute for World Economics (IfW)
The IfW at the University of Kiel is an international center for economic policy research and documentation, with a focus on applied economic research especially in the area of international division of labor. The institute has about 270 employees, and one of the world's largest libraries for economics and social sciences. The Institute’s main activities are economic research, economic policy consulting, and the documentation and provision of information about international economic relations. The Institute’s publications and services are addressed to academics in Germany and abroad as well as to decision-makers in both the public and private sectors, and to those people in the general public interested in domestic and international economic policy.
Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA)
The HWWA considers itself a service oriented research institute, whose studies are made available for the public in general and for the international scientific community, the business community and political decision-makers in particular. The Hamburg-based center includes one of Europe's leading public access libraries with an extensive press cuttings archive. Of the 150 employees, only 40 work directly in research; the rest are involved in the economic service department. The HWWA sees its main task as participating in the development and dissemination of economic knowledge by processing and evaluating information in the focus areas of the globalization and European integration.
German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin (DIW Berlin)
With more than 200 employees and a budget of €19 million ($22.5 million), the DIW in Berlin is the largest of the six economic think tanks. Since the fall of the Berlin wall, it has been primarily involved in studying economic development in eastern Germany and Eastern Europe. Of the six institutes, it is said to have the closest working relationship with the unions and is considered to follow the Keynesian school of economic theory. It stands in opposition to the IfW.
Rhine-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research in Essen (RWI Essen)
The RWI focuses on analyzing and forecasting developments in the German economy and industrialized countries. The institute's focus areas are the regional industry in the western state of North-Rhine Westphalen and the steel and energy sectors. Recently, the think tank has also concentrated on turning itself into a center for research on the labor market and education.
Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH)
The IWH is the only eastern German research center among the leading economic institutes. Beyond its traditional focus on the transformation of the eastern German economy, the Halle institute examines issues arising out of the disparities between the eastern European accession candidates with their below-average economic performance and those of the rest of the European Union. The IWH also conducts research on changes in the labor market. Established in 1992, the Halle institute is the youngest of the six big think tanks.
Institute for Economic Research in Munich (Ifo Institute)The Ifo Institute at the University of Munich is a service-based research organization which conducts economic research, offers advice to economic policy-makers and provides information services for the academic and business communities. The institute is best known for its monthly Business Climate Index, a respected early indicator for business developments in Germany. Within its research activities, the center focuses primarily on areas important for political decision making: social policy, labor market reforms and financial markets.