European banks received 1.6 billion public euros between 2008 and 2010

European banks received 1.6 billion public euros between 2008 and 2010

  • Joaquín Almunia, head of Competition, warns that the problems will not be solved until the sovereign debt crisis is overcome.
  • Most of the aid went to banks in three countries: Ireland (25%), United Kingdom (18%) and Germany (15%).
  • The keys to the debt crisis
Banco de España

Image of the headquarters of the Bank of Spain, in Madrid. JORGE PARIS

The banking sector received a total of public aid of 1.6 trillion euros between October 2008 and December 2010 from the countries of the European Union (EU), representing 13% of the European Gross Domestic Product (GDP) , according to data published Thursday by the European Commission (EC).

On the other hand, public support for the real economy fell by 11,700 million last year, which represents a decrease of almost 50% compared to 2009. This decrease is due, according to the EU Executive, to the low demand and budget constraints approved in most EU countries.

The governments gave 82,900 million to the productive sector Of the 1.6 trillion given to the banking sector, almost 1.2 trillion -that is, 10% of the GDP- was destined to state guarantees to the financing of the entities and other support measures to liquidity, according to the EC. In addition, financial institutions received just over 400,000 million euros in recapitalization and asset treatment measures to improve their solvency. 58% of this aid was given to banks in three countries: Ireland (25%), United Kingdom (18%) and Germany (15%).

In addition, European governments put 82,900 million euros available to temporary companies in the productive sector , although in 2009 21,000 million were used and in 2010, 11,700 million. The aid to industry and services was 61,000 million euros, or 0.5% of GDP, of which 85% went to objectives of common interest.

When will it end?

The EU Member States also guaranteed subsidies of up to half a million euros per company, although these temporary measures were partially abandoned last year and replaced by guarantees, reduced interest, risk capital assistance or investments in the environment.

The usual aid , that is, that was not introduced as a result of the crisis, remained in 2010 at levels similar to those of previous years, specifically in 73,800 million euros – 0.3% of EU GDP. Also, the EC said that in 2010 the public administrations recovered 82% of the 12,000 million delivered in subsidies considered illegal by the European authorities.

The rules to help banks will be extended on January 1. That is why the Commission proposed on Thursday to extend the duration of the temporary framework of aid to the financial sector but to end the aid framework for the productive sectors. As of January 1, the rules for the delivery of aid to banks will also be binding, which the EU will extend in the coming days.

“The key condition for disconnecting the assisted breathing machine between the State and the financial sector is that the sovereign debt crisis be solved,” the vice president of the Commission in charge of Competition, Joaquín Almunia, said in a statement. The EC vice-president indicated that he will annul the current rules of banking assistance “as soon as market conditions allow”, and that he will ensure that “the aid received by the banks and by the real economy is destined to create growth and job”.

No to joint endorsements

The European Union has ruled out this Thursday to grant joint guarantees to European banks to facilitate their refinancing in the markets through the issuance of debt, given the resistance of several countries and the possibility that they can resort to the European Financial Stability Fund ( FEEF). Spain, Italy, Cyprus and France were in favor of the limited mutualisation of guarantees to banks, but Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Austria refused and Denmark and Luxembourg expressed their reservations.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said that the European Banking Authority (ABE) will publish the final figures for the recapitalization needs by the beginning of next week so that the systemic banking meets the 9% maximum capital quality before June 2012.

The European Central Bank wants to take the gas pedal from the current interest rate policy slowly, according to Council Member Ewald Nowotny

The European Central Bank wants to take the gas pedal from the current interest rate policy slowly, according to Council Member Ewald Nowotny

Instead, the focus is on cautious normalization, said the governor of the Austrian National Bank (OeNB) on Wednesday at a conference in Vienna.

Picture: ECB 

The ECB’s inflation target of just under two percent should not be interpreted as a point target, said Nowotny further ahead of financial managers. Unlike the Federal Reserve, the ECB has defined price stability as the only goal.

In the banking sector, a rapid increase in interest rates would also cause problems. Therefore it is important to see things with “caution and detachment”. “Even the central banks know the problem of the long braking distance,” said Nowotny. Therefore, it is important to drive with “safety distance” in order to react quickly to emerging hazards.

In principle, the interest rate policy can not be determined arbitrarily by the central banks, but is linked to the development of inflation. “It would be completely wrong economically to use low interest rates with high inflation or high interest rates with low inflation,” said Nowotny.

There is currently a period of very low interest rates and low inflation, said Nowotny. It is being discussed whether this might be a long-term structural development and that comparatively low interest rates can be expected in the long term. The reasons for this would lie in the opening up of the global economy and massive additional providers of savings deposits. It may also be that the demand for capital has fallen or that it has to do with the increasing uneven distribution of income or the distribution of demographic development. “There are no clear answers,” said Nowotny.


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 Many employees can receive asset-based benefits (VL) from their company

 Many employees can receive asset-based benefits (VL) from their company

. Of the state, there is often a supplement. But only every sixth household in Germany uses VL.

Picture: Money 

Only about 15 percent of all German households use capital-efficient services, as the study Consumption and Media Analysis has found. This is often due to the ignorance of employees, believes Frank Tammen, financial expert of the consumer center of Lower Saxony in Hanover: “When I speak in the advice of financial services, then I often look in empty eyes.”

In fact, not all workers are eligible. Only if it is expressly regulated in the collective bargaining or employment contract, there are asset-effective services. According to the journal “Finanztest” issued by Stiftung Warentest (issue 4/2011), civil servants receive about 6.65 euros a month, employees of the iron and steel industry and the motor industry 26.59 euros and bankers 40 euros.

Not every employer pays

“It’s a gift from the employer,” explains Tammen. And in his opinion, this should be absolutely accepted, since the payment is not bound to certain income limits, as many workers mistakenly believe. These income limits apply only to government subsidies, which are still on top in the investment in certain types of investment, Tammen explains: “State funding is, so to speak, the icing on the cake.”

However, not every employer pays any capital-building benefits. Others only give the subsidy if the VL are put into a company pension scheme. Annabel Oelmann from the consumer center of North Rhine-Westphalia recommends accepting such an offer: “With the occupational pension, consumers increase their income in old age.” The alternative of giving up money usually makes no sense. “However, consumers should look closely at the terms of the contract and agree on additional benefits, such as disability insurance.”

Employee savings – the promotion of the state

The most important subsidy from the state, the employee savings bonus, is paid when singles do not earn more than 17 900 euros or married couples do not earn more than 35 800 euros a year. However, only if you put the money in a home savings contract or repay a building loan. For equity fund savings, the limit for single people is 20,000 euros or for married couples 40,000 euros.

Consumer advocates Tammen advises low earners to take the state subsidy in any case and to resort to one of the promoted products. Which one decides, depends on the personal risk tolerance. “The risk-conscious invests more in an equity fund, the other rather in a home savings contract.” According to “Finanztest” savers can look forward to the best Bauspar offer on a return of 3.35 percent.

savings schemes

For investors who are not eligible for state subsidies, consumer advocates advise Tammen to invest in a VL bank savings plan. According to Stiftung Warentest, investors here at the best provider can expect a return of 3.48 percent after seven years.

From equity funds, the expert advises against employees who are not eligible to pay, rather, because the investor can access here only a limited number of products that are approved for capital goods. “If I want to invest in equity funds, then I would do that outside the capital assets in this case.”

No matter which form of investment you choose, the employer pays the money directly to a savings account account specified by the employee. Seven years running a VL contract. “However, only six years contributions are paid, one year the contract is suspended,” says Annabel Oelmann: “Consumers should therefore early on care about a new contract.”

All eligible payers should note that the employee savings allowance does not come automatically, as Oelmann states, “It must be filed with the tax return each year, and the bank must provide the customer with the necessary certification to add to the tax return.”

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