Volume 7 – 2016 – International Commerce Issue (CI01)

German Balance on Current Account Surpluses – Cause or Result of a Macroeconomic Instability in the Eurozone?

Gerhard Feldmeier 1

1 International Management at Hochschule Bremerhaven, University of Applied Sciences, Germany

To cite this text:

Feldmeier, G. (2016), German Balance on Current Account Surpluses – Cause or Result of a Macroeconomic Instability in the Eurozone?, Percursos & Ideias, Vol. 7, pp. 5-22.

Download PDF


In the course of the recent economic crises in various EU member countries current account balances are in the focus of political and economic debates next to discussions about public budget deficits and total national indebtedness. While the focus there is traditionally in an analysis of the causes and negative consequences of twin deficits of high public debt and negative trade balances, economies with persistent trade balance surpluses are also critically examined and blamed for being responsible for global financial and national debt crises. Thus high German trade balance surpluses are expected to be a main reason for macro-economic imbalances within the EMU countries. However, a closer look at the target regions of German exports within this perspective modifies this assumption, also the fact that there is a strong correlation in between strong export surpluses in Germany’s trade balance and positive effects for European partner countries in the form of imported intermediate input supplies from them. Another limitation of the criticism of the German trade balance surpluses results from a supply-side consideration of global export industries. According to this Germany with its remaining high share of manufacturing industry in GDP achieves traditional trade balance surpluses, whereas southern European countries with a lower share of production industry tend to be more trade balance deficit countries. These facts suggest that a politically constrained reduction of German trade surpluses and a subsequently weakening of the German economy hardly favor trade deficit countries, but would rather cause a collateral damage for global economic development.


Eurozone debt crisis, Export trade surplus Germany, Significance of national balance on current accounts, Export strength, Macroeconomic imbalance, Demand and supply side perspectives of exports, Intermedia input goods imports, Investment goods exports, EU Monetary Policy