• Germany edition
 
Bank rules will shield consumers from risk
Photo: DPA

Bank rules will shield consumers from risk

Published: 06 Feb 2013 14:40 GMT+01:00
Updated: 06 Feb 2013 14:40 GMT+01:00

"We know that the exaggerated de-regulation (of the financial markets in the past) was a mistake," Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble told a news conference when presenting the draft law.

"We allowed ourselves to be dazzled by technical innovation, new financial products and breathless developments on the financial markets," he said.

But in the wake of the financial crises, Germany had come to the realisation that "no financial market, no financial player and no financial product must be allowed to escape supervision," Schäuble said.

"If you want the chance to make a profit, you must also shoulder the risk," and the taxpayer should not be expected to foot the bill, the minister said.

"We're establishing step by step a new regulatory framework for the financial markets," he said.

Under the new legislation, which Schäuble said he hopes to have passed by parliament by June, large banks will have to separate their different areas of activity in order to protect customers' deposits from riskier areas of operations.

The rule will apply to institutions where high-risk operations such as high-frequency trading or hedge-fund financing make up either 20 percent of the balance sheet value or surpass €100 billion ($135 billion) in value.

The banks concerned will be required to transfer their risky businesses into legally and financially separate units.

Schäuble estimated that between 10 and 12 banks in Germany fulfil these criteria and would therefore be affected.

He declined to name any, but the rules will certainly affect the country's two biggest banks, Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, as well as regional banking giant Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW).

The law also requires banks to draw up so-called "wills" or emergency plans for restructuring or winding down once they get into financial difficulty.

High-level managers and executives will face up to five years in jail if they are found guilty of neglecting their risk management duties and allowing their company to run into trouble.

The legislation would directly tackle the shortcomings that make the financial system vulnerable to crisis and also tackle the "lack of responsibility on the part of banks and bankers," Schäuble said.

Banking separation is an idea promoted by the head of the Finnish central bank and European Central Bank governing council member Erkki Liikanen as a measure for reducing risk in the banking sector.

France has also drawn up similar legislation and Britain, too, is mulling an overhaul along similar lines.

But a Europe-wide process would likely take years, so Germany was seeking to provide added impetus by pressing ahead with its own national legislation now, Schäuble argued.

Nevertheless, the banks themselves are fiercely opposed to the changes.

Deutsche Bank has repeatedly slammed the idea as harmful both to the German economy and German companies.

It argues that if it can no longer use deposits to support its activities in investment banking, refinancing costs would automatically rise and that would narrow the financing possibilities of major companies.

The BdB German banking federation agreed.

"The draft legislation will undermine Germany as a financial centre," complained BdB president Andreas Schmitz.

"The measures approved by the cabinet today are folly," he said, slamming them as cheap populist moves by politicians with an eye on the general election this September.

"There is no evidence that separating off trading activities will lead to greater stability on the financial markets," Schmitz argued.

Instead of rushing ahead with its own unilateral national regulatory measures, Germany should wait for new rules to be established at a European level, he said.

AFP/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

02:05 February 7, 2013 by US-TommyBoy
I don't need a shield from bank risk, I need a shield from crooked, corrupt bankers.

The LIBOR bunch is a classic example.
18:52 February 12, 2013 by raandy
Tommy Boy I agree the banking institutions are now all about risky investments with high profit potential and BIG bonuses for the top echelon.

What ever happened to the rules that use to prevent this audacious behavior from our financial institutions?
Today's headlines
North braces for storms and floods
Cars waiting to be loaded onto the ferry at Bremerhaven, Lower Saxony, were caught in flooding on Wendnesday. Photo: DPA

North braces for storms and floods

UPDATE: The remnants of hurricane Gonzalo have drifted across the Atlantic and are now threatening North German cities with flooding, forecasters warned on Wednesday. The news followed a night of accidents caused by heavy winds in southern Germany. READ  

Kerry's challenge to Russia at Berlin Wall
US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Berlin Wall. Photo: DPA

Kerry's challenge to Russia at Berlin Wall

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited remnants of the Berlin Wall on Wednesday and warned that East-West tensions again threaten freedom in Europe, 25 years after its collapse. READ  

Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train
Sonneborn in the EU Parliament. Photo: DPA

Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train

Martin Sonneborn can’t believe his luck. The German comedian, leader of the political party “Die Partei”, managed to get elected to the European Parliament in May, and has found himself overwhelmed with fresh material. READ  

The Local List
Which high school cliche is your city?
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock

Which high school cliche is your city?

This week's Local List takes a leap of imagination and finds German cities fit perfectly into high school cliche categories. Who's the class clown? Who's the nerd? READ  

Indian schools drop German teaching
Indian pupils enrolled in German classes prepare for Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's visit to their school. Photo: DPA

Indian schools drop German teaching

Thousands of children in India will no longer be taught German after the country's education ministry allowed a contract to lapse. READ  

Syria-bound US teens stopped in Frankfurt
A passenger plane landing at Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA

Syria-bound US teens stopped in Frankfurt

Three teenage girls from Colorado were arrested by German police at Frankfurt airport after running away from home, reportedly on their way to join Isis in Syria. READ  

Tourists stranded on cable car over Rhine
Tuesday night's rescue operation Photo: DPA

Tourists stranded on cable car over Rhine

Six people, including a family and two American tourists, were left dangling 40 metres in the air over the Rhine for hours late on Tuesday after Cologne's cable car came to a halt. READ  

7:1! Bayern celebrate record in Rome
Arjen Robben celebrates the first goal against AS Roma. Photo: DPA

7:1! Bayern celebrate record in Rome

Bayern Munich were elated on Tuesday night after securing a 7-1 victory against Roma in their group stage Champions League clash. READ  

Nazi U-boat wreck found off US coast
A preserved World War II U-Boat on the beach near Kiel, Germany. Photo: DPA

Nazi U-boat wreck found off US coast

A World War II German U-boat and an American merchant vessel it sank in battle have been found deep in the ocean off the coast of North Carolina, officials said on Tuesday. READ  

Fourth time lucky for free Berlin WiFi?
Coming soon? Photo: DPA

Fourth time lucky for free Berlin WiFi?

Berlin's bid to set up a free city-wide wireless network has so far come to nothing. But city bosses are now trying for a fourth time - and hope to have the project running next year. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Robbers blow up Berlin bank
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: Facebook
Society
German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: World's biggest erotic fair opens in Berlin
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The ten richest people in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,491
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd