Talking Point
Unemployment benefit Q and the elusive quest for social justice
Time to enhance (social) justice is the election campaign slogan of the SPD and its leadership candidate, Martin Schulz. To bring this slogan to life the chancellor candidate and the Federal Minister for Labour, Andrea Nahles, recently presented plans for specific labour market policy measures. The duo is proposing that the existing unemployment benefit be extended to include an additional component and that the eligibility criteria be relaxed. The idea of the new benefit Q (for qualification) is to grant registered recipients the right to participate in qualification programmes. It could double the benefit period – for younger jobseekers from one to two years and for those aged 58 and above from two to four years.  [more]
Germany
Focus Germany: Investment: Public, residential – gradually picking up
In international debate public investment is often regarded as a useful lever for promoting higher domestic demand. Despite international criticism and political declarations of intent, public investment in Germany has only increased moderately over the past two years and has remained average, at best, on an international scale. In the coming years, however, public investment is expected to grow significantly. The current investment plans for the federal budget are 40% higher than those adopted in 2013. Public contracts for the construction industry in 2016 were between 15 and 27% above the average of the previous 10 years. The excellent state of the public finances at the various government levels also supports the prospect of increasing investment growth. However, severe capacity shortages in the construction industry are likely to mean that the high demand for investment will not quickly lead to an increase in construction activity. (Further articles: German housing market, Corporate bond boom in Germany, Result of the Saarland election) [more]
European integration
Who is afraid of populists?
With developments in the UK and the US, populism was a key theme in 2016. But does the perception of 2016 as “the year of the populists” really fit for Europe? A closer look suggests that while populism was an omnipresent theme in public discourse, support for populist parties in polls rather remained stable and elections did not translate into outright populist wins. The rise of populist parties has however been a multi-year trend. Populists can affect national politics in various ways. One possible effect is that forming a government (coalition) often gets more complicated and time-consuming and results in more fragile governments. Another is populists’ potential impact on policy discussions’ style and content. Pursuing policies with long-term benefits but which are often not instantly popular becomes more difficult ‒ both at the national and the European level. [more]
 
 
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