FRANKFURT, GERMANY – The German Woodworking Machinery Assn. (VDMA) is calling 2009 “the worst year for decades.”

Dr. Ralph Wiechers, the organization’s chief economist, said exports of German woodworking equipment plummeted approximately 43% last year compared to 2008.

“Even for the plant and machinery manufacturers, who are familiar with severe cyclical fluctuations and know how to cope with them, 2009 was a cataclysm,” Wiechers said. “The massive loss of confidence on the financial markets evolved into a globe-girdling economic crisis. Machinery customers at home and abroad reacted with growing uncertainty - and imposed far-reaching curbs on investment and expenditure.

“The severity of the crisis, and the sheer speed with which it engulfed us, were doubtless foreseen by very few of my colleagues,” Wiechers added. “This does not, however, mean that we were totally unprepared. There were more than vague signs of an imminent downturn. Back in the autumn of 2007, the early-warning indicators had already been triggered worldwide.” 

Wiechers said that while the worst appears to be over but that a rebound in machinery orders will be slow in coming.

“We are predicting that Germany’s mechanical engineering sector will in 2010 be able to more or less sustain the low production volume of the crisis year 2009, with a slight uptrend over the course of the year. This means that Germany’s production output of machinery will in the first few months of 2010 still be significantly lower than in the preceding year’s equivalent period. Later in the year, the sector may exceed in reporting plus rates again.”

Read VDMA's full report.

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