Berlin saves IKB Bank

The German government announced that it intends to lead a €1.5 billion bail-out of the German small business lender IKB. Minister of Finance Peer Steinbrück (SPD) said that the state would contribute €1 billion to save the bank.

“(A bank collapse) could create difficulties for confidence and economic growth,” Steinbrück told Die Welt.

Steinbrück stressed that the private sector must come up with the remaining €500 million needed to save IKB. Minister for Economics and Technology, Michael Glos (CDU), said that the financiers as well as the sum they intend to invest are yet to be determined.

“We have already given our contribution,” said Henrich Haasis, president of the association of Sparkasse to Berliner Morgenpost. Sparkasse is the state owned savings and loan bank, which has offices throughout the country. A spokesperson from the Association of German Banks said that he could not yet foresee if private banks will participate in IKB’s bail out.

Experts estimate that IKB has lost up €2 billion due to its exposure to US subprime mortgage investments. Shareholders and private German institutions have already bailed the bank out twice since its problems started this past summer. IKB’s shareholders, lead by the state owned development bank KfW have claimed that they do not have the funds to contribute the required capital to save IKB now.

Experts have said that one option could be that KfW, which owns a 31 percent stake in Deutsche Post, to issue a €1 billion convertible bond or other instrument based on its ownership of the mail service in order to finance a bail out of IKB.


German consumer prices set to rise steeply amid war in Ukraine

Russia's war in Ukraine is slowing down the economy and accelerating inflation in Germany, the Ifo Institute has claimed.

German consumer prices set to rise steeply amid war in Ukraine

According to the Munich-based economics institute, inflation is expected to rise from 5.1 to 6.1 percent in March. This would be the steepest rise in consumer prices since 1982.

Over the past few months, consumers in Germany have already had to battle with huge hikes in energy costs, fuel prices and increases in the price of other everyday commodities.


With Russia and Ukraine representing major suppliers of wheat and grain, further price rises in the food market are also expected, putting an additional strain on tight incomes. 

At the same time, the ongoing conflict is set to put a dampener on the country’s annual growth forecasts. 

“We only expect growth of between 2.2 and 3.1 percent this year,” Ifo’s head of economic research Timo Wollmershäuser said on Wednesday. 

Due to the increase in the cost of living, consumers in Germany could lose around €6 billion in purchasing power by the end of March alone.

With public life in Germany returning to normal and manufacturers’ order books filling up, a significant rebound in the economy was expected this year. 

But the war “is dampening the economy through significantly higher commodity prices, sanctions, increasing supply bottlenecks for raw materials and intermediate products as well as increased economic uncertainty”, Wollmershäuser said.

Because of the current uncertainly, the Ifo Institute calculated two separate forecasts for the upcoming year.

In the optimistic scenario, the price of oil falls gradually from the current €101 per barrel to €82 by the end of the year, and the price of natural gas falls in parallel.

In the pessimistic scenario, the oil price rises to €140 per barrel by May and only then falls to €122 by the end of the year.

Energy costs have a particularly strong impact on private consumer spending.

They could rise between 3.7 and 5 percent, depending on the developments in Ukraine, sanctions on Russia and the German government’s ability to source its energy. 

On Wednesday, German media reported that the government was in the process of thrashing out an additional set of measures designed to support consumers with their rising energy costs.

The hotly debated measures are expected to be finalised on Wednesday evening and could include increased subsidies, a mobility allowance, a fuel rebate and a child bonus for families. 

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s proposals for future energy price relief

In one piece of positive news, the number of unemployed people in Germany should fall to below 2.3 million, according to the Ifo Institute.

However, short-time work, known as Kurzarbeit in German, is likely to increase significantly in the pessimistic scenario.