The German financial system remains vulnerable to adverse economic developments. Future credit risk could be underestimated and the recoverability of loan collateral such as real estate overestimated. “An unexpected economic downturn and abrupt rise in risk premia could hit Germany’s financial system hard,” Bundesbank Vice-President Claudia Buch explained, adding that a stable financial system should be able to cushion such shocks rather than amplifying them.
At the end of the second quarter of 2019, the financial assets of households in Germany stood at €6,237 billion. Compared with the previous quarter, this represents an increase of €95 billion, or 1.5%. The purely transaction-related increase in financial assets amounted to €65 billion.
Germany’s net international investment position stood at €2,073 billion at the end of 2018, thus amounting to around 62% of nominal gross domestic product. The German net external asset position rose by €281 billion year-on-year.
The profitability of small and medium-sized banks and savings banks (less significant institutions, LSIs) in Germany is low. The prospect of a prolonged period of historically low interest rates makes it very likely that profitability will decrease further. This was shown by the recent survey carried out by the Deutsche Bundesbank and the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) on the earnings situation and the resilience of German credit institutions in the low interest rate environment.
People in Germany are increasingly making payments without coins and notes, even for fairly small amounts. This is indicated by the Bundesbank’s statistics on the use of cashless payment instruments in 2018, which show that both the number and the total value of cashless transactions rose on the year.
According to the latest Bank Lending Survey (BLS) in Germany, German banks have tightened their credit standards for loans to enterprises once again. For loans to households for house purchase, by contrast, institutions have eased their credit standards somewhat.
The consolidation process in the German banking sector continued in 2018. However, the number of institutions did not fall as steeply as in the year before on account of new additions in the context of banks operating in Europe and on the international stage preparing for Brexit. Over the course of the year, the overall number of credit institutions fell by 40 to 1,783. This corresponds to a 2.2% decline compared with a drop of 3.4% in 2017.