Germany has avoided recession despite the resurgent eurozone debt crisis, official data showed on Tuesday, confirming the resilience of Europe’s top economy to the turmoil around it.
The German economy grew by 0.5 percent in the first quarter of the year, federal statistics office Destatis said, after contracting at the end of 2011, dodging a recession defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth.
The data were much better than the market had expected. Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had pencilled in growth of 0.1 percent.
Compared with the same period the previous year, the economy grew by 1.7 percent, Destatis said. Adjusted for calendar effects, the growth was 1.2 percent year-on-year as there was one more working day in 2012.
The growth was driven both by trade and domestic demand, the statisticians noted.
Germany has shown remarkable resistance to the eurozone crisis despite some of its closest neighbours and trading partners suffering crippling recessions.
“The German economy has escaped the technical recession many other eurozone countries are currently experiencing with no more than a fright,” commented Carsten Brzeski, senior economist at ING bank.
“With this morning’s numbers, the German economy has not only avoided recession but could have even helped the entire eurozone economy falling into technical recession.”Data for the whole 17-nation bloc are to be released later Tuesday.
France reported flat growth in the first quarter.
“Today’s report shows how the eurozone’s biggest economy maintained a great deal of resilience, despite the effects of the debt crisis,” said Annalisa Piazza, an analyst at Newedge Strategy.
Indeed, Germany’s powerhouse economy has continued to wrongfoot economists with its resistance to the crisis.
Both exports and imports are at a record high, data earlier this month showed, as demand outside Europe for goods ‘made in Germany’ continues to grow strongly.
Meanwhile, unemployment is near its lowest level since reunification in 1990, in turn boosting domestic consumption and reducing Germany’s reliance on trade.
Moreover, forward-looking indicators suggest Germany’s future growth path will be firm, with the closely watched Ifo survey of business confidence rising for the past six consecutive months.
Germany suffered more than most from the international economic and financial crisis that worsened with the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers — contracting nearly five percent in 2009 — but has since rebounded strongly.
After growing by 3.7 percent in 2010 and by three percent last year, Berlin has forecast a much smaller increase of 0.7 percent for this year, which is nonetheless still respectable compared with the eurozone as a whole.
Next year should see the growth rate more than double to 1.6 percent, according to economy ministry forecasts.