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.