The year 1979
In 1979, the economic development of Western industrialised countries, which managed to increase their gross national product by 3 percent in real terms, was characterised by a generally uniform curve: the economic upturns of the initial six months flattened out considerably - albeit with regional variations - over the course of the year. Considerable momentum was lost by the economies of the USA, Great Britain and the Netherlands, with, for example, Japan providing a contrast thanks to its booming industrial goods exports, rendering it largely immune to the global downwards trend.
In some aspects, the economy of the Federal Republic developed rather more favourably than those of comparable industrialised countries. Gross national product increased by 4.4 percent in real terms, and exports by 7 percent. With a rate of capacity utilisation of 84.4 percent, industry generated a growth rate of 5.6 percent and increased its overall investment in comparison with the previous year by 14 percent. At the same time, averaged out over the year, the unemployment figure fell to 876,000 (-11.8 percent). Although the results for the chemicals industry were affected negatively in the industrialised countries of the West by the rises in the price of oil and raw materials and by instances of overcapacity in various segments, the chemical companies in the Federal Republic still managed to increase their sales from DM 110.61 billion (1978) to DM 126.27 billion. Overall, the sector invested around DM 6 billion, distributed in equal thirds to the expansion of capacity, necessary replacements and the rationalisation of production processes. Mechanical engineering was also notable for its stable growth, achieving an increase in sales of over 5 percent.