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Is Germany Entering a Recession?

August 21, 2012

Even in August, while nearly all of Europe is on vacation, we find that economies don't get to take vacation. Europe will come back from its holiday and find that nothing has improved and some things have gotten worse. Specifically, Germany looks to be rolling over into recession. In this week's Outside the Box, Charles Gave of GaveKal looks at Deutschland and notes that while it might be able to handle a mild recession, problems will be that much worse in the rest of Europe, which needs a robust German consumer. This letter will print long due to a number of charts.

"While Europe's biggest economy should be able to endure this loss of altitude, the reverberation across Europe will be significant. The absence of exchange rate volatility over the last 15 years has allowed economies such as Italy and France to escape depression-type conditions, which might otherwise have occurred given their economic underpinnings.

"Now, however, there can be no escaping the fact that reduced German imports must cause a decline in French and Italian exports. This will likely be a shock for those who expect the German juggernaut to drag the southern economies back to growth. To put it bluntly, Germany will very shortly be subtracting from growth in the rest of Europe."

Charles is one of the founders of GaveKal (along with his son Louis and Anatole Kaletsky). GaveKal is one of the world's leading independent providers of global investment research. It also advises several funds, with combined assets of more than US$1.2 bn. With eight partners and 45 employees, GaveKal has its headquarters in Hong Kong and offices in the US, Europe, and China.

I am back from a needed time off and feel ready to get back into the harness. So, without further ado, let's look at what Charles has to say.

Your wondering how David Copperfield does it analyst,