Friday, June 22, 2012

22/6/2012: Don't rush with that 'Germany Imploding' headline, mate

So the silly season of 'Germany is collapsing' is on again today with the release of the Ifo Index and the subsequent media charade on foot of yesterday's PMIs.

Now, let's take a look at the thesis so beloved by on-line business media hacks. Is Germany really caving in?

Headline Business Climate Index from Ifo:

What do the numbers tell us?

  • Headline Business Climate index fell from 106.9 in May to 105.3 in June - a monthly drop of 1.5%. Previous monthly drop was steeper at 2.7%, but 'business media' missed that.
  • Year on year, the index is down 7.9% - steeper than back in May when it fell 6.4% y/y.
  • 3mo MA is down 1.7% on previous 3mo period and is down 5.9% y/y.
  • 6mo MA is at 108.3 same as 12mo MA and the last two months both came in at below that. But the 3mo MA is at 107.4 - and that is probably more significant of an indicator than monthly readings. 
  • June reading is the lowest since March 2010 - the headline that many captured in their reports.
So things are not great. But are the schloss walls caving in? Look at the historical chart above. Current reading. Current 3mo MA is 107.4 - well ahead of historical average of 100.8 and crisis-period average of 103.2.

Next, take a look at the components of the index:

  • Business Situation sub-index actually improved in June to 113.9 from 113.6 in May. So last m/m move was +0.5% against previous m/m move of -3.6%. Y/y comparatives are less pleasant: June 2012 y/y index fell 7.5% against May 2012 y/y fall of 6.7%. 3mo MA fell 1.8% on previous and 5.7% y/y. 
  • Overall Business Situation sub-index remain weak - marking second lowest reading since August 2010. And it is below 12mo MA of 117.0 and 6mo MA at 116.0 both in level terms and in 3mo MA terms. Still, the sub-index is well ahead of 101.7 historical average and 107.1 crisis-period average.
  • Business Expectations sub-index fell 3.6% m/m in June to 97.3 compounding the fall of 1.8% in May. Y/y sub-index is down 8.3% in June after -6.0% drop in May. 3mo MA is down 1.7% on previous and down 6.2% on same period in 2011.
  • At 100.3 3moMA is now below 6moMA at 101.2 but is identical to 12mo MA at 100.3. The 3moMA for the sub-index is basically tracing the historical average of 100.2 and is only slightly ahead of the crisis-period average of 99.7.
  • Sub-index is now at the lowest point since October 2011.
  • But I wouldn't read too much into expectations sub-index, which tends to reflect the mood of the day, rather than act as a true leading indicator.
So overall, things are weak. The weakness is not accelerating in m/m terms, but is accelerating in y/y terms. Short-term averages are performing in line with June trends. Not a happy place, but not quite Armageddon either.

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