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In Germany the most prominent public banks are the Sparkassen (I have my account at one), which are kind of a franchise from a Sparkassen-association.
They are owned by the communal level, public ownership is 100%. Connected are the Sparkassen, which are rather small banks (about every district has its own Sparkasse), with the Landesbanken, which are state owned banks, and whose major task is to provide services to the Sparkassen for which they are too small individually (e.g. building and loan association tasks), or providing financing for projects too big for Sparkassen.
Another thing Landesbanken do regularly is sinking lots of money in international bubbles(Asia crisis, current housing crisis in the US), but that isn't officially part of their job.

Then there is the Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau (KfW), which is a federal gov't owned bank, but is operating hardly for profit. They have special programs with low interest rates, e.g. for house insulation or solar energy on your roof. So its mostly a political purpose bank.

Then there are partly public banks, e.g. the Postbank, which is planned to be privatised completely and merged with the Deutsche Bank. Despite such privatisation, public institutions remain an important player in the banking industry.

The European Union's legislation has interfered with that in several ways. First, public banks are not allowed to get a tax payer funded guarantee on their debt, as this is seen as derailing of private competition. Second the statutes of the Sparkassen-assosation was required to be changed, so that private investors now can buy Sparkassen. But so far this hasn't happened.

Measured by balance sheet Sparkassen and Landesbanken have held 36% of the all banks balance-sheet sum together in 2002.

Another part of Germany's baking landscape are the cooperative banking institutions - Volks- und Raiffeisenbanken, which originally focused on very small credits (Raiffeisen said over a 100 years ago things similar to the ones Muhammad Yunus) and agricultural stuff.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Mon Sep 22nd, 2008 at 05:37:36 PM EST
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