German economy nightmare: Leading experts line up to savage Merkel’s Covid recovery plan

Angela Merkel's vaccine stance discussed by Gyles Brandreth

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Business and industry leaders have pressed the German Chancellor to ease crippling restrictions which have been in place since mid-December. Ms Merkel is due to publish a roadmap out of lockdown later this week with reports suggesting many restrictions could be extended until Easter.

A survey by the Ifo Institute for Economic Research found almost 50 percent of Germany’s leading economists were unhappy with the current situation.

The Munich-based think-tank asked 177 economists and found 27 percent were “somewhat dissatisfied” and a further 20 percent were “very dissatisfied”.

Just 30 percent of respondents said they were “partly satisfied”, 20 percent said they were “rather satisfied” and two percent were “very satisfied”.

Niklas Potrafke, head of the Ifo Centre for Public Finance and Political Economy, said: “The results of the new economists’ panel suggest that there is still room for improvement in the coronavirus economic policy.”

A third of the panel said the immediate withdrawal of restrictions would reduce the number of firms going bankrupt.

It found 35 percent thought easing restrictions now would stop firms going under, 43 percent said it would not and 22 percent said they did not know.

Those in opposition to removing restrictions too quickly warned the threat of a third wave of infections could have a greater economic impact.

Germany has the largest economy in Europe and it contracted by five percent in 2020.

The latest figures released by the Federal Statistics Office found retail sales fell by 4.5 percent in real-terms in January and by 9.1 percent in December.

Germany has recorded more than two million cases of coronavirus and 70,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

In the past week the number of infections per 100,000 people fell slightly to 65.7.

Ms Merkel wants the daily average to fall to 50 before the economy can begin to slowly reopen.

The German Chancellor will meet heads of the 16 federal states to discuss the current lockdown which had been due to expire on March 7.

Germany is set to stay in lockdown until at least March 28, according to a draft document.

From March 8, five people from two households will be allowed to meet, up from a maximum of two people under current rules.

Much of the economy is set to remain closed, with only flower shops, book stores, garden centres, and beauty salons allowed to reopen.

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Armin Laschet, leader of Ms Merkel’s Christian Democrats and premier of Germany’s largest state, said it should be possible to agree to ease the rules based on a strategy of more testing for COVID-19 and faster vaccinations.

She said: “Test, test, test is the message for the coming months.”

(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg).

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