(Reuters) - Three years into the euro zone debt crisis, the gravity-defying German economy has stalled and some fear it could fall into recession in the second half of this year.
Over the past week, Europe's largest economy has been hit by a series of increasingly gloomy data releases, showing declines in manufacturing orders, industrial output, imports and exports.
In an unusually stark warning on Friday, the economy ministry said these figures and a sharp drop-off in business sentiment in recent months pointed to "significant risks" to Germany's outlook.
Next Tuesday, gross domestic product data for the second quarter is expected to show modest growth of about 0.2 percent. But the danger of recession in the second half of the year is growing, leading economists say, at a time when Europe's single currency bloc desperately needs growth from its economic powerhouse.
The slowdown carries risks for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will seek a third term in an election one year from now, and could influence public opinion on her crisis-fighting strategy especially if a nascent rise in unemployment accelerates.