News Bites

The EU and Japan signed a historic free-trade agreement dubbed JEFTA today. Tokyo will reduce tariffs on European dairy, meat and wine, and Brussels will slash duties on auto imports when the deal comes into force, possibly next year.

Jörg Schneider, CFO at Munich Re, will step down at the end of the year. He will be replaced by Christoph Jurecka, CFO of Ergo, a subsidiary of Munich Re.

Michael Kühne, a German billionaire, received an offer from Morgan Stanley Infrastructure for VTG, valuing the company at €1.52 billion. Morgan Stanley already owns 49% of the rail logistics firm.

ThyssenKrupp shares climbed more than 8% after board chair Ulrich Lehner said he would step down at the end of the month. Market analysts said pressure is building on managers to split up the conglomerate.

Half of Germans store gold in deposit boxes, according to a survey conducted for Deutsche Börse. One in 10 would be willing to bury it in their garden.

Frankfurt looks set to gain fewer finance jobs from London after the UK leaves the European Union than it initially hoped as banks may spread offices across Europe. (Bloomberg)

Fiscal fillips

Berlin should brace for economic downturn, Bundesbank chief warns

Germany is enjoying another year of robust growth. But Jens Weidmann warns the government must prepare now for the end of the boom, which easily could come sooner than later.

BAVARIAN BOOM

No end in sight for Munich’s real-estate rush

Bavaria’s capital is Germany’s most expensive city to buy or rent property. With demand steady and supply constricted, prices look set to keep pressing upward.

european parliament

EU financial watchdog ESMA will get less bite than planned

European lawmakers aim to scale back Brussels' plans to give the stock market regulator new powers. National supervisors are resisting reforms that would weaken them.

Leaving the EU

Brexit White Paper gives Germany what it wants

Theresa May's long-awaited White Paper aims to keep manufacturing in Britain, and is willing to surrender London’s financial access to the EU in return. That suits Germany just fine.

Mifid II fallout

EU securities regulator probes pricing of stock data

Should stock exchanges profit from securities data? The European securities watchdog, ESMA, is examining the matter after exchange operators raised fees charged to banks, brokers and high-frequency traders.

placing bets

Hedge funds target Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank with short sales

Big investors are betting on further declines in the share price of Germany's top banks. The short selling, a disputed trading technique, only adds to downward pressure on the stocks.

Dirty money

German ex-Goldman partner reportedly in plea deal over Malaysian scandal

Tim Leissner is in talks to cooperate with US authorities in the probe of a multibillion-dollar fraud at a state fund. A Swiss connection has also emerged.

Dangerously inefficient

Terrorists slipping through net thanks to anti-money laundering unit delays

The Financial Intelligence Unit is overworked and understaffed, say police and prosecutors. Staff only pass on tips six months after crimes are committed, creating a "security catastrophe."

Neighborhood watch

Land rush turbo boosts Rhineland real estate

Historic rivals, Düsseldorf and Cologne can agree on at least one issue: Their housing markets are bursting at the seams, leaving developers scrambling to find new land to build on.

German angst

ECB asset purchase program goes on trial in European court

The difference to previous cases: Berlin and the Bundesbank both back the ECB on a challenge over the legality of the program by hardline German politicians — but not completely.

Punishing Greed

Jail time for German Ponzi schemers in the Infinus scam

A German court has handed down lengthy jail sentences in one of the biggest financial swindles in the country's history. But it's a verdict that not all investors are happy about.

Escape hatch

Generali breaks a taboo by unloading its German life portfolio

Italy's Generali is selling millions of German life insurance policies to runoff specialist Viridium. The deal, the largest of its kind in Germany, raises concerns that policyholders will come up short.

Lies, lies and damn statistics

The truth about Germany’s trade surplus

In the ongoing trade war-of-words between Washington, Brussels and Berlin, all sides have been playing fast and loose with the facts. A look at the economics shows that everyone, including Mr. Trump, is right and also wrong.

Boom turns to gloom

Corporate earnings dip as EU economy stalls

The ECB may have mistimed its monetary tightening as less favorable economic conditions and a trade dispute with the US crimp growth and dampen earnings outlook.

Wirecard Rise

Commerzbank may be forced out of DAX

Shares of Germany’s second-largest bank have declined as the fintech Wirecard surges to surpass it in market cap. If the trend continues, Commerzbank's days as a blue chip may be numbered.

room for improvement

IMF wants some tweaks to the German economy

Germany may be a job-creating powerhouse but it needs to become more productive, the IMF has warned. Its advice: Cut taxes, get people to retire later, boost investment, make it easier to start a business and get the banks in shape.

Bonbon for Rome

Germany unhappy at prospect of Italian heading ECB bank regulator

The next head of the ECB’s banking watchdog could well be an Italian. EU officials say Germany is opposed because Italy’s banks are saddled with bad debt.

Euro reforming

France’s banking chief soothes German concerns

Reform of the euro zone is a good solution to German fears of another costly downturn, François Villeroy de Galhau, head of France's central bank, tells Handelsblatt.

Misery Sells

Deutsche Bank fails US stress test and investors…cheer?

Shares in Germany’s largest bank rose on Friday despite the bank failing a US stress test. That doesn’t mean it was good news.

leipzig urbanization, housing

Urbanization

Booming Leipzig struggles with its success

Overtaking Berlin in coolness, Leipzig is growing faster than any other German city. Now it's facing a housing shortage that's only going to get worse.

Mobile Pay

Google Pay takes on Germany’s cash culture

US giant Google will test whether a country that doesn’t even like credit cards is ready for contactless payment via mobile phones.

Better watch out

EU regulator says banks are ill-prepared for a hard Brexit

The European Banking Authority is urging London-based banks to take immediate steps if they want to continue operations in the EU after Brexit. The clock is ticking.

Fixed income

Germany to sell fewer bonds to refinance old debt

Germany’s tax revenues continue to boom, reducing the country's dependence on new bonds.

Seeking reassurance

Munich Re may pool asset management with Guggenheim Partners

The German reinsurer is in preliminary talks with the US money manager. Joining forces would help to scale up its investment business.

Masters of the universe

Hedge funds scale learning curve in Germany to recast industry

Activist investors have finally figured out how companies work in Germany and now, armed with cash, they're transforming the corporate landscape.

Bad news bearish

Deutsche Bank stressing out about US stress tests

Germany’s largest bank seems doomed to fail the review by US regulators, causing further damage to its reputation and loss of key personnel.

Equity Tokens

Blockchain startup Neufund to debut equity token offerings

Berlin-based blockchain startup Neufund wants to revolutionize the way companies raise money but it may fall afoul of German banking regulations.

Racing lower

German business demands Trump-style tax cuts

Companies urgently need to lighten their tax burden to defend the country’s competitive position, a leading business group argues. Germany risks alienating the very firms on which its finances so heavily rely.

Tech Boom

How to avoid a second dotcom crash

The TecDax, Germany’s main tech stock index, is booming dangerously. A redefinition of the index could help stabilize things, but will it come too late?

Asset-poor

Risk-averse Germans are missing out on global wealth gains

Global wealth surpassed $200 trillion last year and will likely keep growing, a BCG study found. But scaredy-cat Germans are stragglers, preferring to save rather than invest in stock-market opportunities.

Taper but no tantrum

Draghi has barbed words for Germany as ECB sets end to asset purchases

ECB President Mario Draghi surprised some by announcing an end to the bank's bond-buying program in 2018, though he plans to leave interest rates unchanged through summer 2019. Now it's up to governments to pick up the slack.

Digital Payments

Germany’s Wirecard cashes in on the cashless market’s global boom

A surge in online shopping has turned the payments market into a battleground for financial startups. Germany's best-known provider Wirecard placed its focus abroad, not on its cash-loving homeland, to rise above its competitors.