The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) has published a short round-up that I have written with Guido Baldi and Thore Schlaack. The round-up is available here. In the round-up we summarise the literature on international current account balances and international investments with a specific focus on Germany:
The German SPD hit a historic low in the 2017 federal elections. The 20.5 per cent of votes received was the party’s worst result since the Second World War. On the evening of the election, Martin Schulz called the result a “bitter defeat”, which was still something of an understatement. Despite the short revival of the SPD in the polls at the beginning of the year, the party was defeated for the fourth Bundestag election in a row. When compared to 1998, when Gerhard Schröder won 40.9 per cent, the party’s vote share has nearly halved over the last two decades. The party has now been thrown into a deep and existential crisis.
The recent global economic crisis also led to a crisis of social democratic parties. Lacking clear ideas, the parties struggled to respond to the economic malaise and failed to be a strong political force in the context of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. As a result, the average vote share of social democratic parties in Western Europe dropped to an unprecedented low since 1945 (figure 1), leaving them at risk of sliding into political insignificance. In some countries, the far left benefited from this crisis of social democratic parties and much has been written about the causes behind the success of Alexis Tsipras, Jeremy Corbyn, or Bernie Sanders, who are spearheading these socialist insurgencies. However, except for Syriza in Greece, the far left failed to win elections and was unable to stop the wave of right-wing populism that is currently rolling across the Western world. At the beginning of 2017, commentators are instead looking to figures from the centre-left to stop this wave.
Four years ago, I was celebrating Barack Obama’s second election victory with friends in front of the White House. We were dancing in the streets and chanting “Four more years.” Today, I have woken up in a different world, which left me speechless, sad, and profoundly shocked. No more chanting, no more dancing.