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Germany has most to gain from euro weakness

The fall in the euro is not completely accidental. Indeed, many in the Eurozone see the decline as an opportunity instead of a sign of weakness. Nevertheless, it is not clear to me that the Greeks or the Spaniards will gain from the decline as a considerable deal of their trade is done within the Eurozone.

Greece has developed an export market in Eastern Europe, with Greek banks being active in the Balkans. But, its largest trading partners are Italy and Germany. Spain’s problems here are even larger as Spain’s four largest export markets comprise 45.6% of the total and all of the countries are within the Eurozone.

If anything, the Germans are going to be the winners from a competitive currency devaluation. They are the exporters par excellence within the Eurozone. And the Germans export far and wide.

An article in today’s Irish Independent makes the case for a weak euro being Germany’s boon, pointing to specific companies that could benefit.

Germany stands to benefit from the decline because of its status as the world’s second-largest exporter, Ms Olney wrote recently. The euro’s retreat makes the country’s products cheaper for overseas customers and increases the value of international sales.

Any effort by the European Central Bank to hold down interest rates in response to the crisis may lead to faster German economic expansion, she added.

Sales

Ms Olney singled out nine German companies that generate more than 25pc of sales outside Europe: insurer Allianz; post office operator Deutsche Post; energy company E.On; health service provider Fresenius; medical supplies company Fresenius Medical Care; engineering and gas company Linde; drugmaker Merck; software company SAP and engineering company Siemens.

Ms Olney said: "When and if the dust settles, we remind investors that we are still in a recovery, however muted it might be."

Of the four most battered Eurozone economies, Ireland is the one most likely to benefit from a weak euro, its exports already having increased by double digit figures in the first quarter. But the fact that Germany will make out the most if the euro falls precipitously demonstrates that there really are very limited options for the likes of Greece. With the country bound to the Euro, there really is no way for it to reduce its debt burdens permanently except via internal devaluation and default.

The shock and awe drama was really just a temporary solution. Despite the short sale bans in Germany, even German Chancellor Merkel has now admitted as much. For the time being, European leaders are still groping for a solution, trying to figure out when and how they should break the news to the markets that Greece won’t make it. But the longer they stall, the greater likelihood of contagion.

About 

Edward Harrison is the founder of Credit Writedowns and a former career diplomat, investment banker and technology executive with over twenty years of business experience. He is also a regular economic and financial commentator on BBC World News, CNBC Television, Business News Network, CBC, Fox Television and RT Television. He speaks six languages and reads another five, skills he uses to provide a more global perspective. Edward holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA in Economics from Dartmouth College. Edward also writes a premium financial newsletter. Sign up here for a free trial.

11 Comments

  1. Scott says:

    Would you rather have the Germans or the Americans trying to fix this oil hole in the ocean? I think the Germans would have the job done by now. My point is that Germans, regarless of wage disparities are more likely to export the engineering necessary to clog a hole 5,000 feet deep in the ocean for a reason. They’re better at it. A devaluation will not fix that and that is part of the reason they export more than they import. Productivity on a macro scale does not account for expertise.

  2. Germany exports 60-70% of its tradable products to Europe. So let’s see now, what do you suppose happens to top line revenue growth of German exporters as sharp and rapid fiscal retrenchment is imposed on economy after economy of nations in the eurozone? Would Latvia, Ireland, and Greece’s import contractions be any indication worth considering in this regard?

    And should we really expect competitors with German producers in global markets to sit on their hands should the euro depreciate 20-30% against other major currencies? Can you say beggar thy neighbor? How about protectionist backlash? It’s a midterm election year in the US, right?