Ralph Atkins

Germany’s exports get all the attention, but are we missing something more interesting about the recovery in Europe’s biggest economy? The country’s statistical office has just release figures for real incomes in the second quarter of this year. They show a 2.3 per cent rise compared with the same period a year before.

In itself that is not remarkable. The second quarter of 2009 saw a steep fall in incomes as German companies put employees on short time working schemes. So a catching up a year later is no big surprise.

What is striking is that German real wages were actually higher in Q2 than before the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 – even though the economy, in terms of levels of activity – was still way below pre-crisis levels. Read more

Ralph Atkins

The European Central Bank, which has championed fiscal austerity across the continent, has scolded Romania’s government for forcing a 25 per cent pay cut on employees of the country’s central bank.

In a strongly-worded statement, the ECB on Monday warned that Romania’s actions violated European Union treaties allowing monetary authorities to operate freely and without political interference. It presaged a similar showdown with Hungary’s government, which plans to cut its central bank governor’s pay. Read more