Since 1995, the SME Report "Mittelstand im Mittelpunkt" (Medium-sized companies in focus) is published by DZ BANK to furnish up-to-date data on the overall situation of SME companies in Germany.
If you are interested in accessing earlier studies than those presented below, we shall be pleased to provide you directly with earlier reports on request.
Would you kindly note that the reports are available in German only.
German SME companies present themselves from their brightest side: The business situation is reaching for an all-time high. Even if business expectations are declining after having reached a three-years-high in spring, SMEs stay optimistic: investments in goods and staff are planned by many. This is the result of the youngest "Mittelstand im Mittelpunkt" (Medium-sized companies in focus) study published by DZ BANK and by the National Association of German Cooperative Banks (BVR).
Despite of Brexit, protectionist tendencies in US trade policies and weak development in emerging markets, the German Mittelstand demonstrates stability. Since the start of our SME-survey 22 years ago, the participant-companies have neber assessed their business situation better than this year. Moreover, the expectations for the own economic development are more optimistic than in the last three years: Companies are expecting a positive development. Solid fundaments for the positive outlook of the German Mitelstand consist in the conducive economic frame conditions in Germany. Especially private consuption proved a positive impact on the demand for goods and services of SME. Once more, SME were able to rise their equity and to hereby improve their balance sheet's quality.
Taken together, the German Mittelstand founds itself in a good position to face upcoming obstacles, such as the digitalization or the shortage of specialists in the long run. Our Spring Study 2017 prooves that SME though do not rely on their comfortable position: The companies are already working on measures to handle the changing corcumstances.
The mood within the German SME companies is again better than in spring 2016. This development is especially caused by continous good overall conditions in the market: low interest rates push the construction of houses and private consumption. These facts influence SMEs more than internationally acting concerns, as SMEs tend to be orientated closer to the national market. But low interest rates do not cause overall positive effects: SMEs are worrying about the interest they are receiving on their bank balances.
The German Mittelstand shows itself in good spirits in spring 2016. The willingness to invest has never been so high. More than four fifths of medium-sized companies plan on investing in their companies in the next six months. The improvement in sentiment over recent months is due in particular to significantly improved business expectations. But also the assessment of the current situation has improved somewhat compared to the result from our autumn survey. Accordingly, medium-sized companies in Germany remain very satisfied with the business situation.
Not all results were positive though. A large majority of medium-sized companies fear a possible negative fallout in the case of Great Britain voting to leave the European Union. Only 28 percent of those surveyed indicated that they are not affected by this problem. Medium-sized companies have also been unable to escape the impact of weakness in emerging economies, which compared to the result from last autumn is reflected in another significant fall in foreign investment.
In addition, the lack of qualified employees is seen as an increasing problem which has meanwhile also resulted in rising wage costs. These aspects have, however, been unable to spoil the mood for medium-sized companies. Most small and medium-sized companies in Germany benefit from their strong focus on the domestic market which is likely to turn in solid performance both this year and next.
But read for yourself the results of our fourth medium-sized company report compiled jointly by DZ BANK, WGZ BANK and BVR and which now appears for the first time also in spring.
The sentiment among German medium-sized companies has darkened considerably since spring. Whilst the assessment of the current business situation has deteriorated only marginally and so remains at a high level, business expectations for the next six months fell below the long-term average. Most medium-sized companies remain optimistic though. One in five medium-sized companies plans to add employees and the willingness to invest is only slightly lower than in spring. The performance of the German economy was weighed down by international difficulties which even medium-sized companies have been unable to escape.
Foreign investment by medium-sized companies therefore fell slightly, both on account of various crises as well as the weakness of certain important emerging economies. Russia and Central as well as Eastern Europe have become considerably less important on the back of the Ukraine crisis. In particular, China has lost some of its appeal on account of the fall in growth. Beneficiaries of this trend are mainly the US and Canada. But Japan too as well as the rest of Asia have grown in importance over recent years. 2015 also offered medium-sized companies a positive framework for success: Low energy prices brought down costs and, together with the stable labour market, boosted consumption. The weak Euro helped export-oriented business to become more competitive outside the Eurozone. Low interest rates also ensured cheap credit from which companies and mortgage borrowers should benefit. For medium-sized companies, the effect of the low-interest rate environment has not only been positive though. Despite the fact that almost a third of them have benefited from falling costs, close to 43 percent indicated that their interest income from investments is falling.
Read for yourself the results of our third joint medium-sized company report, which once again highlights the importance of medium-sized companies for the German economy.
Despite international crises such as the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine and the difficult financial situation in Greece, German SMEs are expecting a successful year 2015 at a broad level. The marked deterioration in sentiment last autumn was only temporary – SMEs are meanwhile more optimistic about the future again. Both the business expectations and the current situation were rated better this spring than they were six months ago.
There are a number of reasons for this. The ongoing good situation on the labour market, the increase in real wages and the low interest rates create a strong demand from private households. The oil price and exchange rate developments already boosted the German economy at the end of the year, whereby it picked up again considerably in the closing quarter following a weak summer season. However, very few segments in the SME area benefitted from the depreciation of the Euro.
The very positive framework conditions on the whole act as a small stimulus package for the German economy, which can more than compensate the negative effects of the international crises. Therefore, the gross domestic product will increase somewhat more dynamically this year with two per cent compared to last year (1.6 per cent).