Germany's business community is pessimistic about the outlook for 2002. That's the result of a poll a German economic think tank has conducted among business leaders.
Export is the motor of the German economy
The outlook hasn't been this bleak since the recession of 1992/1993, says the Cologne Institute for Business Research.
The institute surveys the mood in the business community every year. But the poll for 2002 which it has just published is especially bleak.
The Cologne Institute (Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln) is a policy think tank, supported by employers' and industrial associations as well as private companies.
It asked representatives from 44 German business associations how they thought turnover, production and employment in their fields would develop.
The large majority of the associations expect worse business conditions for next year. That result is in stark contrast to last year's poll. Back then, the majority of German business associations was still optimistic about their future.
The Cologne Institute explains this mood-swing with the effect the September 11 attacks have had on world economy. It says the consequences of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. will be affecting world economy longer than originally estimated.
Hope for the future
But the institute also sees a shimmer of hope: it says many investments are only being delayed at the moment, not cancelled. If the global economic climate changes for the better, this could lead to an economic upswing in the second half of 2002, the institute says.
One sector that still has a positive outlook for 2002 is the German food industry. The Cologne Institute attributes this to the fact that the negative consequences of BSE and foot-and-mouth disease have been overcome. In addition, export in the food sector is still going strong.
Oil Prices and economic growth
The Cologne Institute for Business Research forecasts one percent more economic growth in Germany if oil prices remain low. If oil stays under $ 20 per barrel, the institute says, Germany will spend some 24 billion euro ($ 21 billion) on oil imports in 2002 - that's 40 percent less than this year.
If Germans spent all that money they'll save at the gas stations on consumer goods, the German economy would undoubtedly have every reason to celebrate in 2002.