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The year 1966

Messer Griesheim had to handle the consequences of the merger and the necessary organisational adjustments within what was generally a difficult economic environment. In the economic history of West Germany, the two years 1966 and 1967 represent the end of the “long 1950s” (Werner Abelshauser), a boom period which had lasted from 1949 until 1966 without any economic setbacks. The special economic conditions of the post-war period had lost their stimulating effects for good: the potential workforce was exhausted and capital productivity had fallen away considerably.

Since the autumn, the Federal Republic had been undergoing its worst economic crisis, with this coming as a shock to the West German population, spoiled as it had been by the Economic Miracle. There was a noticeable slump in both private and public investment. With domestic demand for products in the mechanical engineering sector having been on the wane since as early as the spring of 1965, the spring of 1966 now also saw a decline in public civil engineering orders. In German industry, considerably more was being produced than was being sold. This overproduction and sales crisis resulted in gross national product growing by a mere 2.8 percent. Other consequences were inevitable: for one, the number of corporate bankruptcies increased from 2928 (1965) to 3301, with the unemployment rate in the second half-year also rising significantly. Unemployment figures shot up from 101,476 in July to 371,623 in December. 1966 represents a turning point for the longer-term economic structure as well, as the proportion of the workforce employed in the goods-producing sector was now no longer rising, and the existing trend was being superseded by the development of the service sector in the economy.

Annual report 1966 (German)