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Snail's pace

August 16, 2011

Growth in Europe's biggest economy slowed sharply in the second quarter of 2011, adding to signs that the global recovery is losing momentum as EU leaders struggle to get a grip on eurozone debt.

A snail
German economic growth has slowed dramaticallyImage: Fotolia/Mathieu PINSON

The German economy grew by a slim 0.1 percent in the second quarter of 2011, according to official data published Tuesday.

"The dynamism in the German economy has cooled significantly since the robust start to the year," the federal statistics office, Destatis, said in a statement.

Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had expected Europe's biggest economy to grow by 0.4 percent between April 1 and June 30 as the eurozone grappled with a crippling debt crisis.

The data showed Germany was actually growing at a slower pace than battered, debt-ridden Spain, where gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.2 percent in the second quarter.

Anemic exports

Construction helmet and tools
Growth has been hit by slowdown in the construction industryImage: picture-alliance/ZB

Statisticians said the 0.1 percent growth in the second quarter compared to the first quarter was based on anemic expansion in exports, which are normally the backbone of the German economy.

Imports rose more than exports in the second quarter, undermining the growth figures, as consumer spending and investment in construction also slipped.

"The global slowdown is gradually reaching Germany," Andreas Scheuerle, an economist at Dekabank, told Reuters.

Meanwhile, Destatis revised its first-quarter growth figure downwards from 1.5 to 1.3 percent.

The statistics office said data dating back to 1991 had been adjusted as part of a wide-reaching review conducted every five years.

Disappointed markets

The poor growth figures surprised many investors and caused European stocks to fall in early trading ahead of economic talks between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris later Tuesday.

Germany has been a star performer in the industrialized world since the end of the 2008 financial crisis. Analysts say a sharp slowdown in German growth would have serious repercussions elsewhere in the eurozone.

"While German politicians are currently racking their brains on the pros and cons of common eurobonds, the luxury of having an economy running at 'wonder' speed is fading away," said ING economist Carsten Brzeski.

Author: Sam Edmonds (dpa, Reuters, AFP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler