Is the threat from the East growing?

European companies intend to cut back on investment as the fallout with Russia starts to be felt.

"The German economic mini-miracle is on hold", says Olaf Storbeck on Breakingviews. After four quarters of growth, GDP slipped by 0.2% in the three months to the end of June.

The tepid global recovery is one problem. First-half exports rose by just 2.4%, compared to an expected 4%, says Wirtschaftswoche. Only the US and the UK are growing strongly.

In the eurozone, Germany's main export market, Italy and France are dragging down growth.

The stand-off with Russia is also a concern. Germany has closer economic ties to Russia than many of its major counterparts. So far, exports to Russia are down by 15% year-on-year. The latest sanctions will quicken that decline.

Deutsche Bank estimates that if exports to Russia fall by 20%-25% this year, it would wipe up to 0.7% off exports growth,which would knock 0.3% off overall GDP.

That doesn't sound too bad, says Wirtschaftwoche. But consider also the German firms that invest in Russia. This is harder to gauge numerically.

Nearly half of German businesses have links to Russia, and the political uncertainty, along with the squeeze on the Russian economy, could undermine investment in Germany.

Nearly a quarter of German firms intend to cut back on investment next year, according to a recent survey.

If enough companies, whether they have business in Russia or not, start to delay investment, the dip could feed on itself. And if sanctions escalate, consumer confidence will also be undermined. The economic threat from the East is getting stronger.

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