Germany's economy shrank slightly in the third quarter of 2018, the first quarterly decline since early 2015, largely because of bottlenecks in getting new cars certified under tougher emissions tests.
The Federal Statistical Office reported yesterday that the German economy shrank by 0.2 percent in the third quarter. The figures have been adjusted for price, seasonal and calendar variations.
The agency said exports were down and imports were up in the third quarter, meaning there was a net drag coming from trade. There were also mixed signals from domestic demand.
The economy ministry said in a statement that "one-time effects in the third quarter lead to an interruption of the upswing." Major automakers including Daimler and Volkswagen had difficulty getting new cars certified under tougher emissions testing standards. That led them to discount cars head of the Sept. 1 test deadline, and caused a shortage of cars to sell to consumers afterward.
The drop followed increases of 0.5 percent in the second quarter and 0.4 percent in the first.
ING economist Carsten Brzeski says signs point to a rebound, but that the third-quarter decline is "another wake-up call that political stability and strong growth are by no means a given."