Critics of Germany’s trade surplus often point to the introduction of the euro and
the Agenda 2010 reforms as the causes of this trend. However, one look at
history shows that Germany also generated export surpluses at times when the
deutschmark was appreciating.
The additional price competitiveness triggered
by the introduction of the euro and low labour costs or, more precisely, low
growth in unit labour costs since the Hartz reforms do not fully account for the
current account surplus.
Furthermore, recent studies have highlighted the low
exchange rate elasticity of particularly productive companies – this likely applies
to a majority of Germany’s most important exporters including the large
corporations and ‘hidden champions’.