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Financial Outlook

Germany’s economy grew by a weaker than expected 0.4% in 2013, according to official estimates released in January 2014. Preliminary figures suggested that Germany saw little or no growth in the last three months of the year, weighed down by the weakness of the Eurozone. The central bank said that low interest rates had been encouraging house-building and private consumption, although foreign trade had weakened. However, the government is forecasting a 1.7% expansion in 2014, supported by improvements in the rest of the Eurozone and the United States—both big export markets for Germany. Inflation amounted to just 1.4% in 2013, well below the European Central Bank’s target of 2.0%. Meanwhile, unemployment amounted to 6.9% in December 2013, close to its lowest level since Germany reunified more than two decades ago. Germany’s export success and large current account surplus is causing problems with other countries. In November 2013 the European Union said that it was investigating the surplus. If it finds a problem, it can make recommendations to the German authorities which, if ignored, could result in a fine of around €2.5 billion.

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