DAccording to bank president Christian Sewing, the current crises require flexibility in dealing with government spending. “It is important that the debt brake is adhered to in the medium term. A government’s attitude of sticking to agreements and fulfilling the goals that have been set is enormously important for the confidence of the market,” said the Deutsche Bank boss in his function as President of the Association of German Banks (BdB) in an interview with the Deutsche Presse- Agency. “In the long term, we will all benefit from the debt brake. But you also have to keep an eye on the respective situation, and then it can make sense to act a little more flexibly temporarily.” Sewing cited the special fund for defense as an example.
The debt brake, which has been anchored in the Basic Law since 2009, only allows the federal government to make new loans to a limited extent. In 2020 and 2021, the federal government made use of the exceptional regulation to be able to temporarily suspend this instrument in emergency situations due to the high burden resulting from the corona pandemic. In 2023, Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) wants to comply with the debt brake again. But in view of the current challenges, there is a dispute in the traffic light coalition.
Above all, the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine is forcing Europe to change course. “It is important that we learn the right lessons from this war of aggression over the next 12 to 15 months,” said Sewing, who has been BdB President since July 1, 2021. “I can only support the course of the federal government to work resolutely to reduce the dependency on individual countries, especially Russia, as much as possible. Here, every single company and every single bank is required to minimize dependencies.”
Sewing considers the direct burden of the war on German banks to be manageable. “After all the mistakes we made around the financial crisis, we have worked enormously over the past ten to twelve years to clean up our balance sheets and strengthen our capital and liquidity position.” The credit commitment of German banks to Russian customers or to Subsidiaries of international customers in Russia are at a level that makes him “not nervous”. The German banks are also significantly more resilient to shocks than they were during the 2008/2009 financial crisis.