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Friday, August 12, 2016

Negative Interest Rates Arrive as German Bank Gives In

When the European Central Bank introduced a negative interest rate on lenders’ deposits two years ago, few thought things would ever go this far.
This week, a German cooperative savings bank in the Bavarian village of Gmund am Tegernsee -- population 5,767 -- said it’ll start charging retail customers to hold their cash. From September, for savings in excess of 100,000 euros ($111,710), the community’s Raiffeisen bank will take back 0.4 percent. That’s a direct pass through of the current level of the ECB’s negative deposit rate.
“With our business clients there’s been a negative rate for quite some time, so why should it be any different for private individuals with big balances?,” Josef Paul, a board member of the bank, said by phone on Thursday. “As it looks today, charges on deposits won’t be extended to customers with lower amounts” than 100,000 euros, he said.
Raiffeisen Gmund am Tegernsee may be a tiny bank that’s only introducing penalties to well-off customers -- it says fewer than 140 will be affected -- but in principle the ECB’s negative deposit rate was meant to encourage spending and investment in the euro area’s sluggish economy, not to tax thrifty Bavarians. A spokesman for the Frankfurt-based central bank declined to comment. READ MORE