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Banks 'stashing money in fear of meltdown'

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Banks 'stashing money in fear of meltdown'
Jürgen Fitschen, Deutsche Bank CEO to be Photo: DPA
12:44 CET+01:00
Germany's economy is still in the danger zone, with banks stockpiling money in the European Central Bank (ECB) instead of lending it, Jürgen Fitschen, next in line to lead Deutsche Bank, warned on Thursday.

How banks store their assets in the ECB is generally seen as an indicator of a country's financial health, he said; the more money put into the fund the more scared banks are of meltdown.

Fitschen said that the current slump “may last several more years” and that banks were more fearful of economic collapse than during the peak of the 2008 recession.

German banks have stashed €528 billion in the ECB, more than during the height of the recession, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) reported on Thursday.

“Europe is the sick man of the global economy,” Fitschen told the paper, adding that international confidence in the EU's economy was waning and overseas investors were pulling out.

“The fear indicator is higher than in was in 2008,” he said. “Something is not right, trust is disappearing.”

Deutsche Bank board member Fitschen and investment banker Anshu Jain will take the reins of Germany's biggest bank from current CEO Josef Ackermann in May.

Fitschen then said the German involvement in reducing Greece's debts was to blame for an 8 percent slump in Germany's economy. “If this situation continues, it will end in disaster,” he said.

Commerzbank, Germany's second biggest bank said on Thursday it had approved a plan that would allow it to solve its financial problems without state aid.

This announcement comes following widespread doubt in the bank from analysts and a bail out from the government in 2009. The European Banking Authority said in December that German banks needed to raise €13.1 billion to withstand future financial shocks, with Commerzbank requiring €5.3 billion.

But the bank said it had reduced this to €3.0 billion by the end of 2011. They also expect to have €1.0 billion more than necessary by June 30 due to a reduction in risky investments and saving up profits from the fourth quarter of last year.

This will only be possible, however, if the Germany economy does not deteriorate further, the bank said.

Investors celebrated the news, and shares in Commerzbank soared on Thursday during Frankfurt stock exchange late morning trading.

The Local/DPA/AFP/jcw

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