Int’l conflicts unsettle German consumers
“The West’s confrontation with Russia in the Syria conflict is becoming more acute and causing increasing disquiet,” pollsters GfK said in a statement, downgrading their forward-looking barometer by 0.1 points for a May reading of 10.8. People on the street worry a deepening of the confrontation between Moscow and Western capitals like Berlin, Paris and Washington could undermine growth in Europe’s largest economy.
Turning from East to West, the public also fear a costly trade war between America and the EU, after weeks of protectionist rhetoric from US President Donald Trump prompted a rollercoaster ride for financial markets.
Expectations for future economic activity fell back sharply in the survey, GfK said.. But the public’s inclination to make big purchases gained a little ground in the latest poll, as low levels of unemployment lent a sense of stability and persistent low interest rates discouraged saving.
The slight clouding over of consumers’ mood follows steeper recent falls in measures of confidence among investors and business leaders.
But overall, “consumer confidence is stagnating at a good level,” GfK said, predicting it could rise higher over the rest of 2018 - “on condition that nothing further stokes the emerging uncertainty.”