April Bank Lending Survey for Germany

Beginning with the April survey round, the German sample for the euro-area Bank Lending Survey was increased to 34 participating institutions. The sample enlargement was necessary to ensure a high degree of representativeness in the future following the changes in the German banking sector over the past few years.

According to the results of the Bundesbank’s latest survey, credit standards in Germany were tightened marginally in the first quarter of 2012. It was only for loans to small and medium-sized enterprises that they were eased slightly. There was a marked divergence in credit conditions, however. The margins for loans to enterprises were expanded significantly for riskier loans and remained unchanged overall for loans of average risk. In lending to households, the margins were narrowed, in some cases perceptibly, riskier loans for house purchase being the sole exception.

Furthermore, the banks recorded a perceptible decline in the demand for funds in the case of loans to enterprises, while they were faced with a marked increase in demand in the financing of private construction. By contrast, the demand for funds remained unchanged in the case of consumer loans. For the second quarter of 2012, the surveyed institutions intend to leave their credit standards largely unchanged except for a slight easing in the case of loans to enterprises, especially small and medium-sized enterprises.

There was a further tightening of banks’ credit supply policy in the euro area, although the restrictive adjustments were noticeably smaller than in the final quarter of 2011, particularly with regard to the standards. At the same time, the institutions in the eurozone reported a marked decline in the demand for loans to both enterprises and households.

The April survey again contained two ad hoc questions on the impact of the financial and sovereign debt crisis on the banks’ funding and credit standards. The outcome was that, given the recovery in the financial markets, German institutions’ access to their sources of funding has clearly improved overall. Above all, the possibility of issuing debt securities was assessed by the banks as having improved sharply. By contrast, German banks did not perceive the easing in the European sovereign bond markets as having any impact on their credit standards for loans to enterprises and households.