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An economic slowdown in Germany is now more likely than ever as
fresh troubles on the Rhine River pose a headache for shipping and
heavy industry. Levels at Kaub, a key point on the waterway west of
Frankfurt, are poised to breach 40 centimeters (15.75 inches) on
Friday, and will continue to dwindle in navigability in the coming
days. Below that marker, it’s not economical for many barges to
transit the river, which is used to ship everything from oil &
gas and coal to chemicals and grain.
What happened? Weeks of dry weather have weighed on Europe’s
major waterway, with shallow depths preventing barges from loading
their full volumes. The effects could ripple through the continent
for months, just as the region is on the brink of recession from
the war in Ukraine and untamed inflation. Economists estimate the
Rhine disruption could knock half a percentage point off Germany’s
growth this year, adding to the significant price pressures seen
across many Western European countries.
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