Share ownership plunges despite recovery

Nearly half a million people in Germany turned their backs on share ownership during the second half of 2010 in what experts fear is a declining faith in the stock market.

Share ownership plunges despite recovery
Photo: DPA

Despite the steady economic recovery and the strengthening DAX stock index, 476,000 people ditched shares or bailed out of share-based investment funds, the German Share Institute, which represents German stock-listed companies, reported.

During the last six months of 2010, the number of investors who directly or indirectly invested in shares fell to about 8.2 million – the lowest figure for more than 10 years. The number of share owners or indirect share investors stood at more than 8.6 million in the first half of last year.

Institute head Rüdiger von Rosen branded the drop a “major setback for the acceptance of shares.”

About 3.42 million investors, or 5.3 percent of the population, owned shares directly in the second half of 2010. The institute said this was back almost to the low-point of 3.39 million when Germany was in the depths of the financial crisis.

During the stock market boom of 2001, the number of share owners and fund members was nearly 13 million. Recent polls had fuelled hopes that share ownership would grow as the financial climate improved.

With 12.6 percent of the population owning shares either directly or through investment funds, Germany is low on the international ladder. Some 30 percent of Dutch people own shares, as 27.7 percent of the Japanese, 25.4 percent of Americans and 23 percent of Britons.

DPA/The Local/djw

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Emergency numbers fail in several German states

Callers to the emergency numbers 110 and 112 weren’t able to reach operators Thursday morning in several German states.

The 112 emergency number on an ambulance.
The 112 emergency number on an ambulance. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

The emergency number 110 for police and 112 for fire crews failed around the country early Thursday morning, with callers unable to reach emergency operators for urgent assistance between about 4:30 am and 5:40 am local time.

The Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Aid is looking into these outages, which were reported in states including Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, and  Brandenburg, and in major cities like Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, and Frankfurt. Cologne was further affected by cuts to electricity, drinking water, and regular telephone services. Lower Saxony also saw disruptions to the internal phone networks of police and hospitals.

Emergency services are not reporting any more disturbances and people should be able to once again reach 110 and 112 around the country as normal.

Investigators are looking into the problem, but haven’t yet established a cause or any consequences that may have happened due to the outage. Provider Deutsche Telekom says they have ruled out the possibility of an attack by hackers.