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Rising Pain in the Heart of Europe

posted by Jason Kilborn

Apparently, statistical agencies all over the world are finally releasing their 2008 bankruptcy data. The AOUSC released its CY 2008 report yesterday, and today, the German agency (DeStatis) released the report for December and CY 2008. As it usually does, DeStatis tried to paint a rosey picture--the headline is "7.1% fewer consumer bankruptcies in CY 2008." This seems to contrast quite nicely with the 31% rise in U.S. bankruptcy filings. But the DeStatis report reveals that business filings rose 13% from a year earlier, and non-business filings rose 12.3% in December 2008 over December 2007, nearly 13% for "pure" consumers (as opposed to former small-business people). The Q4 filings, especially December, show a rapid and troubling spike, and one suspects this will continue in force well into 2009. Hang on!

Comments

Raivo Pommer
raimo1@hot.ee

LBBW-Bank krisehilfe

Die Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW) wird fünf Milliarden Euro bekommen, um die Folgen der Finanzkrise abzufedern - in Form einer Kapitalerhöhung. Doch möglicherweise braucht Deutschlands größte Landesbank noch mehr Hilfe. Einem Bericht der Schwäbischen Zeitung zufolge benötigt das Institut zur Absicherung von risikobehafteten Papieren Garantien in Höhe von 16 Milliarden Euro. Die Bank wollte dazu am Freitag keine Stellung nehmen.

SPD-Fraktionschef Claus Schmiedel, der Mitglied im LBBW-Verwaltungsrat ist, sagte: "Die Zahl ist aus der Luft gegriffen." Man müsse sich darauf konzentrieren, nur die stark schwankenden Papiere abzusichern. "Denn jede zusätzliche Abschirmung kostet Geld und belastet die Gewinne." Den Umfang wollte er nicht nennen.

Wie die Zeitung aus der Bank nahestehenden Kreisen erfuhr, sollen die Papiere aus dem Kreditersatzgeschäft, die großen Schwankungen unterworfen sind, in eine Zweckgesellschaft ausgegliedert werden. Finanzkreisen zufolge soll es sich bei dem Volumen um etliche Milliarden handeln. Dadurch sollen sie die Bilanz der LBBW nicht mehr belasten.

Germany has been quite stauchly resistant to "bailouts" of other kinds, so I'm a bit surprised to read about this 5 billion Euro LBBW bailout (and the "bad bank" banishment of distressed paper). Given that it's the biggest state bank, though, and the state banks are so important to the German finance system, I guess I can see the government accepting that it simply MUST step in to support this pillar of the economy. I recall that KKR was allowed to fold (last year?), but the bigger banks are apparently "too big to fail" (where have we heard that before?). I wonder why this paper is so distressed . . . U.S. subprime CDOs, perhaps?

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