Germany’s tilt towards manufacturing is something it shares with France and Italy, the next largest euro-area economies. That bent has left them cumbersome rather than strong. It is goods-producers that suffer most during recessions. Consumers are unwilling to shell out on expensive items, such as cars and home appliances but are less prone to cut back on the frequent small purchases that keep many service industries ticking over. Just as consumers are making do with the cars and fridges they already own, firms are increasingly loth to splash out for new plant and machinery. In uncertain times, the instinct is to make equipment last a little longer. That strikes at the heart of Germany’s economy, which specialises in consumer durables and capital goods.

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