The year 1989
Without reaching the high rates of growth of previous years, overall economic growth increased by 3.5 percent in real terms, with raw material and energy prices remaining generally low. Of the Western industrialised nations, it was primarily the USA, Canada and Great Britain which recorded lower rates of growth than in the previous year. The early 1980s had seen a noticeable relocation of global centres of growth. The threshold countries or (according to UN terminology) the "medium-income countries" (such as Singapore, Hong Kong, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and South Korea) emerged as competitors for the traditional industrialised nations on the global markets for mass products, on the basis of ready technology, cheaper trained labour and mass production (textiles, electrical articles, clothing, etc.).
Although the international environment did not offer the optimum peripheral conditions, the German economy still managed to improve its economic balance sheet once again, increasing its gross domestic product by 4 percent in real terms. The German Federal Bank identified the reasons for this strong growth as lying in the "rapid expansion of foreign demand", benefiting "uninterrupted dynamic growth among the European partner countries" and the growth of domestic investment. This healthy economy was also reflected in the results from the secondary sector: industry increased its overall sales by 8.7 percent, the number of people employed in production had long since been on the increase and the number of corporate insolvencies fell. Apart from a few sectors such as mining, the clothing industry and shipbuilding, all branches of industry saw their profits rise. With its main customers in the USA and France, mechanical engineering recorded rates of growth in sales of 9.6 percent. In the chemicals industry, which achieved an overall increase of 7.4 percent in its sales, business involving plastics, paint and lacquer, cosmetics and industrial chemicals emerged as particularly profitable.