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ECONOMY

Deutsche Bank lined up for credit downgrade

Credit rating agency Fitch has downgraded two German banks and is conducting a comprehensive review of other banks, including Deutsche Bank, with a view to reducing their ratings too.

Deutsche Bank lined up for credit downgrade
Photo: DPA

Die Welt newspaper reported on Friday that the Landesbank Berlin and Berlin-Hannoversche Hypothekenbank have been knocked down one notch from AA- to and A+ rating, as well as Swiss bank UBS, pushed down from an A+ to an A rating.

Now Fitch has put Deutsche Bank on notice that it could be next – along with French banks Crédit Agricole and BNP Paribas, Swiss bank Credit Suisse as well as the American institutes Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

The downgrades are significant because they show that experts are increasingly concerned that even major banks in the United States and Europe could be threatened by the brewing financial crisis.

Repeated profit warnings from Deutsche Bank as other financial institutions are not helping matters.

In a statement, Fitch blamed Deutsche Bank’s investment banking division for contributing to the bank’s financial problems, according to the Business Wire news service.

It acknowledged, however, that while the bank was affected by Europe’s growing sovereign debt crisis, it had made moves to reduce its risk and would likely see its position in the retail banking sector continue to improve – things which could mitigate its problems.

The Local/mdm

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ECONOMY

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.

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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.

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