The year 1969

In 1969, almost all industrialised nations enjoyed strong economic growth and low levels of unemployment, in some cases having to deal with a noticeable shortage of workers and rising nominal wage costs. While the rise in gross national product in real terms in the EEC failed to match the highest jump, that of the Japanese economy (+12.5 percent), at +7.1 percent it still achieved a more than respectable average value (France +8 percent, Belgium +6 percent, Italy and the Netherlands +5 percent). Within the group of industrialised countries, only the USA (+2.8 percent) and Great Britain (+1.2 percent) fell below the average growth figure.

In 1969, the Federal Republic recorded key economic ratios which came close to recalling the time of the "years of the Economic Miracle". Gross national product rose by a healthy 8.2 percent in real terms, with industrial production rising by 12.5 percent. Indeed, all branches of industry played their part in ensuring the robust health of the economy: the investment goods industry upped its production by 18.7 percent, the consumer goods industry by 11.4 percent and the foodstuffs and luxury goods industries by 4.6 percent. In the chemicals industry, production increased by 11.6 percent (with the production of chemical fibres and plastics in particular experiencing an upturn) and exports were up 13.3 percent. Mechanical engineering also presented successful figures. Overall, sales rose by 20 percent with exports up 12 percent. At the top of the exports ladder were machine tools, followed by textiles machinery and office machines. The factors responsible for this extremely healthy situation in the general economy were: modest wage agreements; the bankruptcy of numerous smaller and unprofitable operations (which at the same time offered existing companies new options for expansion and market opportunities); the healthy economy of important economic partners abroad; the positive concomitant effects of the legislation on stability and growth; and the national economic programmes in place.

Annual report 1969 (only available in German)
PDF (2.9MB)

The year 1968

Once again, the global economy was characterised by significant regional differences. A sound economy characterised the economic situation in Japan, Germany, France, Sweden and the Benelux countries as well, while the economy in the USA expanded in the first half of the year only then to fall away in the second six months. Nevertheless, most industrialised countries achieved respectable growth in production and productivity, with industrial production rising most strongly in Japan (+17.5 percent). The next rungs on the ladder were occupied by the Federal Republic (+11.7 percent), the Netherlands (10.9 percent), Italy (+6.3 percent), Belgium (+6.2 percent), Sweden (+5.4 percent) and Canada (+5 percent).

The Federal Republic did not take long to put the economic crisis of 1966/67 behind it, embarking on a path for growth which was to last for the next five years. Gross national product in real terms shot upwards, with growth of 6.6 percent after having recorded a negative figure the previous year (for the first time in its history), capital investments increased again by 12.1 percent (a value not achieved since 1955) and domestic demand picked up and filled industrial order books, with industry increasing overall sales by 14.5 percent. Corporate profits were 16.8 percent higher than in 1967 and private consumption also increased by 5.4 percent. Production output per employee rose by 15.2 percent in the chemicals industry, which increased its net sales slightly from DM 9.9 to DM 10.3 billion, and by 4.7 percent in mechanical engineering, which came close to stagnation in terms of net sales (1967: DM 10.7 billion; 1968: DM 10.4 billion).

Annual report 1968 (only available in German)
PDF (2.7MB)

The year 1967

In 1967, development of the global economy varied greatly in different regions. In the EEC, gross national product rose by 3 percent in real terms - an average value exceeded by the likes of Italy (with 5.9 percent), whilst Belgium, Luxembourg and, above all, the Federal Republic came nowhere near achieving this figure. After years of continued expansion in the general economy, a rather "mild recession" (Robert Hettlage) - assuming this interruption in growth is counted as a long-term trend in the West German economy - set the alarm bells ringing amongst economists and politicians of the day. The absence of economic growth (-0.1 percent), an unemployment figure of 2.1 percent, which in 1965 still stood at 0.7 percent, a rate of inflation of 3.5 percent, shrinking industrial production (overall sales down by 7.4 percent) and a slump in capital investment (down 8.4 percent) provided the first indications of the limitations to economic growth in the Federal Republic. The recession was particularly hard on construction, the automotive industry, the textiles industry and also mechanical engineering, which had to come to terms with a fall in production of 6.6 percent, although an increase in exports of 9 percent ensured that this sector occupied the leading position among the industrial exporting countries. On the other hand, the chemicals industry proved to be resistant to crisis, increasing its sales by 4.3 percent, although production capacities available to the major groups were not quite used to their full extent.

The general economic situation also represented a challenge for the "Grand Coalition" of Social Democrats and Christian Democrats, which turned to instruments of economic policy with its "Concerted Campaign", passing the Stability Act and adopting a "medium-term financial plan", as well as reforming the financial system. This bolstered the federal structure in terms of decision-making in fundamental economic policy.

Annual report 1967 (only available in German)
PDF (2.8MB)

The year 1966

Messer Griesheim had to handle the consequences of the merger and the necessary organisational adjustments within what was generally a difficult economic environment. In the economic history of West Germany, the two years 1966 and 1967 represent the end of the "long 1950s" (Werner Abelshauser), a boom period which had lasted from 1949 until 1966 without any economic setbacks. The special economic conditions of the post-war period had lost their stimulating effects for good: the potential workforce was exhausted and capital productivity had fallen away considerably.

Since the autumn, the Federal Republic had been undergoing its worst economic crisis, with this coming as a shock to the West German population, spoiled as it had been by the Economic Miracle. There was a noticeable slump in both private and public investment. With domestic demand for products in the mechanical engineering sector having been on the wane since as early as the spring of 1965, the spring of 1966 now also saw a decline in public civil engineering orders. In German industry, considerably more was being produced than was being sold. This overproduction and sales crisis resulted in gross national product growing by a mere 2.8 percent. Other consequences were inevitable: for one, the number of corporate bankruptcies increased from 2928 (1965) to 3301, with the unemployment rate in the second half-year also rising significantly. Unemployment figures shot up from 101,476 in July to 371,623 in December. 1966 represents a turning point for the longer-term economic structure as well, as the proportion of the workforce employed in the goods-producing sector was now no longer rising, and the existing trend was being superseded by the development of the service sector in the economy.

Annual report 1966 (only available in German)
PDF (2.1MB)

The year 1965

With the exception of some country-specific variations, the trend for further growth in economic capacity continued in the industrialised nations. The economy in the USA picked up and, in the second half of the year in particular, France and Italy staged an economic recovery, although in Britain the overall economic balance was adversely affected by economic stagnation and price rises.

Without achieving the strong rates of growth from the previous year, stable growth still persisted in the Federal Republic. At 5.3 percent, the increase in gross national product in real terms was clearly above the average of 3.7 percent for the EEC. Conversely, the increase in industrial production of 6.4 percent did not quite correspond to the average value throughout the EEC (+6.7 percent); however, it did slightly outperform industrial growth in the USA (+6.1 percent). In this year in which Adolf Messer GmbH merged with parts of Knapsack-Griesheim AG to form Messer Griesheim GmbH, the major German groups which had been created after the demerger of IG-Farben were once again amongst the leaders in the group of the world's largest chemicals companies. Leverkusen-based Bayer AG (sales 1965: DM 5.39 billion), Farbwerke Hoechst (DM 5.24 billion) and BASF (DM 4.05 billion) combined accounted for two fifths of all sales in the sector, with this figure rising by some 8.8 percent. In exports - where the main customers remained the EEC countries - industrial chemicals continued to dominate. In contrast with the previous year, mechanical engineering as the largest branch of industry was again forging ahead, increasing its production by around 10 percent.

Annual report 1965 (only available in German)
PDF (16.3MB)

The year 1964

In the non-Communist countries of Europe, gross national product rose across the board more strongly than in the previous year, reaching a growth figure of around 5 percent. Apart from in Italy, industrial production also continued to rise. The poor economic situations of both Italy and France were largely responsible for the slowdown in the average rate of growth in the EEC compared with the previous 12 months.

Within the EEC, the leading position was assumed by the Federal Republic which, once again, performed more strongly than in the previous year. At 6.5 percent, the rate of growth in gross national product for West Germany was matched by no other member state in 1964. In addition, the Federal Republic returned the lowest rise in prices and was the only EEC country to generate high export surpluses. In global trade, with exports up by 11.3 percent, West Germany cemented its second place behind the USA. Other notable features were the surge of around 8 percent in private consumption and the high level of capital investments, which increased by 14.3 percent. The second and fourth quarters in particular saw industrial production increase significantly. Overall sales in the chemicals industry rose by around 10 percent; however, it was not only the Federal Republic which experienced a distinct rise in the production of plastics. In terms of exports, which rose by around 14 percent, the leading position was occupied by industrial chemicals, ahead of plastics and pharmaceuticals. In mechanical engineering, production volume fell by 3.3 percent; however, the value of this did rise by 0.2 percent. With exports into the EEC gathering speed, overall exports in the sector rose by 6.6 percent.

Annual report 1964 (only available in German)
PDF (9.4MB)