Acquisition of financial assets and external financing in Germany in the first quarter of 2015 Results of the financial accounts by sector
In the first quarter of 2015, the financial assets of households rose exceptionally steeply by just under €140 billion (ie 2.8%) on the quarter, climbing to a figure of €5,212 billion. This increase in assets comprised the transaction-related acquisition of financial assets in the amount of just under €53 billion and valuation gains of just over €87 billion. With regard to types of investment, the trend towards liquid and low-risk assets, which has been evident for some time now, continued into the first quarter on an intensified scale. Households' liabilities also increased, with the result that net financial assets rose substantially by just under €137 billion (ie 3.9%) in the reporting period to stand at €3,624 billion. Net financial assets of non-financial corporations recorded a marked decrease of €150 billion (ie 9%) in the quarter under review owing to steep valuation increases in liabilities, in particular. These stood at -€1,814 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2015.
Households: financial assets acquired primarily via liquid and low-risk investments, with capital market exposure remaining weak
In the first quarter of 2015, the transaction-related acquisition of financial assets by households totalled just under €53 billion on balance and was thus distinctly up on the quarter. Just under a third of this amount (€17 billion) was invested in bank deposits (including currency), with all of it flowing into the particularly liquid category of transferable deposits (including currency) on balance. By contrast, fixed-term and savings deposits (including savings certificates) were reduced in net terms, particularly in the long-term segment. Households' preference for highly liquid forms of investment - a phenomenon which has been observed for some time now - thus remained very pronounced in the quarter under review. Claims on insurance corporations and pension funds, which were stepped up by around €26.5 billion net, were an even more significant factor in the acquisition of financial assets by households. The large role played by these claims and by bank deposits, which are regarded as low risk, in the acquisition of financial assets - despite the current low interest rates - indicates households' ongoing high level of risk aversion.
This is borne out by their continued subdued investment in the capital markets, which was particularly moderate in the reporting period. Once more, there were net sales of debt securities, a trend now evident for more than three years in succession, whereby the outflows were again higher than average at €7.5 billion. Sales were chiefly recorded for debt securities issued by German corporations (including primarily domestic banks) and foreign issuers, but also for German government securities. The latter is likely to be related mainly to the low yield levels on government debt securities. Shares and other equity were also sold on balance. In particular, shares from German issuers were disposed of, in spite of an overall positive stock market environment in the reporting period. At just under €6.5 billion, the volume sold on balance rose to its peak since the economic and financial crisis intensified in the fourth quarter of 2008. By contrast, there were purchases of mutual fund shares, including mixed and bond-based funds. In total, just under €11 billion net was invested in investment funds, distinctly up on the previous quarter.
The transaction-related rise in financial assets by just under €53 billion was accompanied by valuation gains, which were higher than average at just over €87 billion. The gains were primarily attributable to mutual fund shares and shares. Overall, households' financial assets thus grew unusually steeply by just over €140 billion (ie 2.8%) to €5,212 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2015.
Households' external financing in the first quarter of 2015 was not significantly lower than in the previous quarter. On balance, loans (including other liabilities) of €4 billion were taken up, mainly in the form of loans for house purchase. Domestic banks were the primary lenders. Households' total liabilities consequently went up by 0.2% to €1,588 billion. In combination with the rise in financial assets, this resulted in a substantial increase in net financial assets by just under €137 billion (ie 3.9%) to €3,624 billion during the reporting period. The debt ratio - defined as total liabilities as a percentage of annualised nominal gross domestic product - shrank by 0.3 percentage point to 54.3% at the end of the first quarter of 2015.
Non-financial corporations: weak acquisition of financial assets and robust external financing via loans
During the first quarter of 2015, the transaction-related acquisition of financial assets by non-financial corporations was once again weak, with outflows of €17 billion. They primarily reduced their investment in bank deposits (including currency) and shares from domestic issuers, which were scaled back by around €8 billion net and just under €17 billion net respectively. By contrast, positive stimuli were observed in the area of lending, which rose by just under €16 billion. Other non-financial corporations in Germany were the key borrowing parties here.
At €67.5 billion, the volume of external financing in the period under review was considerably larger than in the previous quarter. Positive contributions arose from funds raised through loans (€22.5 billion), which were primarily granted by domestic banks. Trade credits also played a significant role in this development, with €26.5 billion taken up on balance. Furthermore, debt securities were issued to the tune of just over €3.5 billion net, with much of the necessary funding coming from abroad. In contrast to this, financing via shares was weak, declining by just over €0.5 billion, which meant that market-based funding was, on the whole, insignificant during the reporting period.
Overall, taking major valuation changes into account (which markedly influenced both financial assets and liabilities), non-financial corporations' net financial assets therefore shrank by a total amount of just under €150 billion (ie 9%) to -€1,814 billion in the first quarter of 2015. The debt ratio – defined as the sum of issued debt securities, loans and pension provisions as a percentage of annualised nominal gross domestic product – stood at 64.1% at the end of the first quarter and was thus up 0.8 percentage point on the end of 2014.
Owing to interim data revisions, the figures stated in this press release are not directly comparable with those shown in earlier press releases.