For the third year running changes in stocks made a negative contribution to real GDP (-0.4 percentage points). Economic reasons for this are difficult to find. Stripping out stock changes, economic growth last year would have been 2.3%. Among the expenditure components of gross domestic product, the 4.2% increase in real government consumption stands out. This is the highest rate of increase since 1992. Even in the economic crisis years 2008/2009 with their various stimulus packages the rates of increase in government spending were not quite so high. The additional outlays for refugees doubtless played a role in the steep rise but are unlikely to be the sole reason. Against the backdrop of the hefty increase in government outlays, it is striking that the public sector as a whole generated a surplus of EUR 19.2bn. But this shows how abundantly state revenues flowed on the back of a healthy domestic economy.
We expect the economic picture to change slightly in 2017. Both government and private consumption will see lower real increases than in 2016, whereas exports will provide a somewhat stronger boost. The construction sector boom will continue in 2017. On the labor market, ongoing substantial rises in the number of people in work will keep a lid on unemployment.