Germany – The country that benefits most from the euro?

Germany – The country that benefits most from the euro?

Politicians and the media repeatedly claim that Germany has benefited from the euro. Let's take a look at the development of wealth. In 2000, Germany was only scraping along both internationally and in the EU. Germany was in the grip of the crisis, which had begun, among other things, with the outflow of capital in the euro system and six million people were unemployed. (see Chart 31)

Chart 31: Average net assets per person in US dollars (effective 2000)

In the almost 20 years that followed, Germany developed into the "export world champion". The current account surpluses from 2000 to 2018 amounted to around 3,415 billion euros. Switzerland also had a very large surplus in this period. (see Chart 32)

Chart 32: Cumulative current account balance 2000-2018 in billion US dollars

Such a policy of export surpluses with a very low-valued currency is called mercantilism. If this policy makes economic sense, it should also translate into prosperity. This should be reflected in net wealth in 2018. (see Chart 33)

Chart 33: Average net wealth per person in US dollars (effective 2018)

Germany was still at the bottom of the ranking at the end of 2018. At least it has moved closer to Italy. For a better overview, here are the absolute increases in wealth. (see Chart 34)

Chart 34: Absolute growth in private assets per capita in US dollars 2000-2018

Average wealth per capita has increased everywhere in the Western world since 2000. Among the countries surveyed, Germany ranks second last in terms of absolute growth, just ahead of Italy, and even last in terms of absolute average private wealth among the countries surveyed: Germany currently stands at $214,893 and Italy at $217,787.

Great Britain, France and the USA have much higher growth rates than Germany. The best performers were Australia and Switzerland. Average wealth growth in absolute terms in these countries is almost three times higher than in Germany. Was the euro really a boon for the German population? The answer is very clear: No. Given the problems in the euro zone and the transfers needed to maintain the euro system, the situation is probably far worse than these statistics show.


List of references for the used photo and charts:

  • Cover photo: bilderstoeckchen @ Fotolia.com
  • Chart 31: OECD / Credit Suisse Research Institute / Ulrike Trebesius (PDF)
  • Chart 32: OECD / Credit Suisse Research Institute / Ulrike Trebesius (PDF)
  • Chart 33: OECD / Credit Suisse Research Institute / Ulrike Trebesius (PDF)
  • Chart 34: OECD / Credit Suisse Research Institute / Ulrike Trebesius (PDF)