01.02.2021 • 4/2021
During Corona, households are saving more – not for fear of unemployment but for lack of spending opportunities
During the Corona crisis, European households increased their savings dramatically. According to an analysis carried out by the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH), the increase in savings is largely due to the inability of households to consume in the face of government lockdown measures, rather than other factors such as economic uncertainty. IWH President Reint Gropp therefore sees potential for a significant catch-up effect in consumption as soon as the lockdown is lifted.
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Why Are Households Saving so much During the Corona Recession?
IWH Policy Notes,
Savings rates among European households have reached record levels during the Corona recession. We investigate three possible explanations for the increase in household savings: precautionary motivations induced by increased economic uncertainty, reduced consumption opportunities due to lockdown measures, and Ricardian Equivalence, i.e. increases in the expected future tax-burden of households driven by increases in government debt. To test these explanations, we compile a monthly panel of euro area countries from January 2019 to August 2020. Our findings indicate that the chief driver of the increase in household savings is supply: As governments restrict households’ opportunities to spend, households spend less. We estimate that going from no lockdown measures to that of Italy’s in March, would have resulted in the growth of Germany’s deposit to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio being 0.6 percentage points higher each month. This would be equivalent to the volume of deposits increasing by roughly 14.3 billion euros or 348 euros per house monthly. Demand effects, driven by either fears of unemployment or fear of infection from COVID-19, appear to only have a weak impact on household savings, whereas changes in government debt are unrelated or even negatively related to savings rates. The analysis suggests that there is some pent-up demand for consumption that may unravel after lockdown measures are abolished and may result in a significant increase in consumption in the late spring/early summer 2021.
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Macro data interactive
Macro data interactive This service provides time series from official publications (Statistisches Bundesamt [German Federal Statistical Office], Arbeitskreis...
Income and savings
Income and savings Primary income of the private households The primary income of the private households (including private non-profit organisations) includes the income...
03.05.2016 • 20/2016
Are Lacking Structural Reforms in the Financial Sector the Underlying Reason for the German Criticism of the ECB?
The major reason for the intense criticism of the European Central Bank’s (ECB’s) low-interest-rate policy may be the lack of structural reforms in the German banking system. The resulting persistent fragmentation increases the banking sector’s vulnerability to the low-interest-rate environment. Hence, parts of the banking sector, due to their strong ties to politicians, appear to have successfully influenced public opinion against the ECB.
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24.09.2015 • 38/2015
German Households Benefit from Low Interest Environment
Calculations of the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) – Member of the Leibniz Association show that the average household in Germany has benefited from the low policy rate environment. The average return on their portfolio was higher than in the pre-crisis period while at the same time, they benefited from lower interest on new loans. Households in Germany had a total Euro benefit of more than 364 billion Euro over a five-year period relative to 2003 to 2007. Increases in stock prices and real estate prices over-compensate lower interest rates on savings accounts, despite their relatively low share in households’ portfolios. There are benefits across the income distribution. Households that do not own real estate lost though, but their losses are very small at on average about 100 Euro per year.
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Energy Efficiency of the Housing Stock: Are potential savings overrated?
Wirtschaft im Wandel,
A core element of the European Climate Protection Policy is the reduction of Energy usage in private households. Legal instruments focus particularly on private multifamily housing. When refurbishing or building a new home, the German regulation for energy saving in buildings and building systems, Energieeinsparverordnung (EnEV 2009), thereby formulates relatively strict standards on energy conservation. But these standards mainly address the technical potentials of energy efficiency gains instead of considering market conditions and different types of housing, especially their age. Theory suggests that legal settings therefore retain owners to refurbish their homes, when returns on investment are negative, especially in regions where market conditions do not allow for higher rents or the costs of refurbishment are too high.
The article presents evidence for these theoretical considerations: based on a large scale sample provided by the company ista Germany, it can be shown, that energy usage differs by the age of dwellings and by the standard of refurbishment. Data suggests that the assumed potentials of energy conservation, which are mainly motivated by technical considerations, are too high. The differences may be a result of different cost functions of refurbishment. Further evidence for this finding is provided by architectural considerations.
As a result, the article suggests to legally distinguishing between different types of housing and to consider market conditions, when providing public funding for energy efficiency. It is suggested to implement a two multidimensional strategy, considering climate protection, urban development issues and the rationality of real estate investors.
The coalition treaty from a fiscal point of view
Wirtschaft im Wandel,
After weeks of negotiations the coalition finally agreed on the conditions for their political work. Not surprisingly, the coalition agreement is complex and intransparent – with a multitude of single measures far away from a precise definition. Quantifying the programme and estimating resulting cash flows is currently difficult; official calculations are – if at all – only partly available. Anyhow, the contract will form the basis for economic policy during the next four years; therefore its evaluation by now is indispensable. The thin red line of the agreement – not astonishingly when considering the precarious financial situation of the public sector – is consolidation. However, more than 80% of the consolidation volume results from the revenue side. Though one third of this is due to the cutback of tax exemptions, the lion’s share comes from raising tax rates, mainly the VAT standard rate. In contrast, cutting back public expenditure is minor and the agreement clearly comes short of the Koch/Steinbrück proposal; even new tax reliefs are created. The consolidation is almost completely borne by private households. Enterprises as a whole are barely hit. However, they have to wait until 2008 for a reform of company taxation – one of the most pressing problems in this legislative period. To reduce the companies tax burden until the reform starts the conditions for tax depreciation are temporarily relaxed. Anyway, from an international point of view the statutory tax rate is an important signal to enterprises deciding where to invest. Lowering effective tax rates by changing depreciation conditions is intransparent and, thus, will be less effective. Furthermore savings within the public sector are planned to accomplish consolidation; 10 billion Euro should result from efficiency gains and reduced expenditure. Consolidation measures mainly focus on the budget of the federal government. However, Länder and communities will participate in the additional tax revenues. In contrast, social securities will loose – and therefore also the share of employment that is subject to social insurance contribution. Particularly the unemployment insurance will be burdened by the decrease of its premium rate. Besides, the federal government will reduce its grants to the pension funds and most notably the health system. The contract is dominated by fiscal constraints. Cyclical requirements are considered only cursory and pressing structural reforms are put off. The reforms of company’s taxation, of fiscal federalism, of the health system as well as a proceeding reform of the labour market are only proposed. How and when measures in these fields are realised will determine whether fiscal policy can set a new course.