Acquisition of financial assets and external financing in Germany in the third quarter of 2019 Results of the financial accounts by sector

The financial assets of households in Germany came to €6,302 billion at the end of the third quarter of 2019. This represents an increase of €67 billion, or 1.1%, from the previous quarter. The transaction-related increase in receivables (acquisition of financial assets) amounted to €58 billion. As in previous quarters, households particularly expanded their holdings of currency and deposits, as well as their claims on insurance corporations. They therefore maintained their preference for forms of investment perceived to be liquid or low-risk. Valuation gains likewise continued to contribute to the increase in financial assets. Household liabilities rose relatively sharply once again in the third quarter of 2019, by €25 billion. Overall, net financial assets increased by €41 billion to €4,441 billion.

Non-financial corporations raised external financing in the amount of €47 billion in the reporting quarter. On balance, non-financial corporations issued €5 billion worth of debt securities. The expansion in other liabilities, including trade credits and advances, contributed €22 billion to external financing. By contrast, the contribution to financing made by domestic bank loans was marginally negative (‑€2 billion).

Households: persistently high incurrence of new debt

In the third quarter of 2019, households’ acquisition of financial assets stood at around €58 billion net, i.e. roughly the average of the past three years. This growth was supported, above all, by the build-up of currency and transferable deposits in the amount of €26 billion as well as an increase in claims on insurance corporations. The latter, at €13 billion, was somewhat lower compared with previous quarters. The trend of falling growth in this instrument observed since 2017 thus continued. Households scaled back their investment in savings bonds and savings deposits comparatively strongly by €4 billion. However, looking back at the past few years, such investment behaviour is not unusual. It cannot, therefore, be assumed that households’ strong preference for liquid and/or low-risk forms of investment is waning.

The development of households’ capital market exposure remained stable. As in the two preceding quarters, households’ net investment in listed shares and investment fund shares amounted to around €10 billion in the quarter under review; 60% of the net inflows to listed shares constituted paper issued abroad. The investment fund shares purchased comprised, amongst others, shares in mixed securities funds and real estate funds. In the third quarter of 2019, households marginally reduced their holdings of debt securities by €1 billion.

Valuation effects were a factor in the increase in households’ financial assets. Equity for instance recorded gains totalling €15 billion. All in all, financial assets increased by €67 billion to €6,302 billion.

The transaction-related increase of €25 billion in household debt in the third quarter of 2019 even exceeded the rise in the second quarter, which had already been very pronounced. This perpetuated an upward trend that has been ongoing since mid-2013. Once more, this development was chiefly attributable to the dynamic growth in loans for house purchase. By the end of the reporting quarter, German households’ total liabilities had risen to €1,861 billion. This implies a renewed relatively sharp increase of 0.4 percentage point in the household debt ratio, defined as total liabilities as a percentage of GDP (four-quarter moving sum). However, at 54.6%, the ratio is still low compared with the period around the turn of the millennium when household debt stood at over 70%. Overall, the growth in financial assets and liabilities resulted in an increase of €41 billion in households’ net financial assets, bringing the total to €4,441 billion.

Non-financial corporations: credit financing sluggish

At the end of the third quarter of 2019, non-financial corporations in Germany recorded a transaction-related increase in financial assets of €45 billion, or 1.0%. This increase was mainly attributable to a rise in investment in shares and other equity by €29 billion and a €23 billion increase in currency and transferable deposits. Holdings of investment fund shares rose moderately by €3 billion. By contrast, non-financial corporations scaled back credit claims by €5 billion. In addition, they significantly reduced their other accounts receivable, which include trade credits and advances.

Non-financial corporations’ external financing, at just under €47 billion, roughly corresponded to its average since 2017. Credit financing contributed only just over €10 billion in the third quarter of 2019, following, for the most part, considerably higher inflows in the past. After two quarters of pronounced growth, net borrowing from domestic banks was even negative in the reporting quarter; however, this was offset by a very strong increase in loans granted by non-residents. Non-financial corporations acquired around €9 billion in the capital market. The issuance of debt securities contributed around €5 billion to this figure, while that of shares and other equity made up just under €4 billion. Other liabilities, including trade credits and advances, expanded by €22 billion.

Taking into account transactions and valuation effects, non-financial corporations’ net financial assets rose by €19 billion in the period under review; at the end of the third quarter, it amounted to -€1,677 billion.  The debt ratio, defined as the sum of issued debt securities, loans and pension provisions as a percentage of nominal GDP (four-quarter moving sum), increased by 0.2 percentage point over the quarter under review to 67.5%, as corporate debt rose somewhat more dynamically in the reporting period than nominal GDP.

Owing to interim data revisions of the financial accounts and national accounts, the figures stated in this press release are not directly comparable with those shown in earlier press releases.