On Friday, the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) leaked a bombshell - a confidential report by Bafin, the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, found that German banks were sitting on over 800 billion euros in toxic assets. Just three months ago, the reports coming out suggested the problem was only half as large, 400 billion euros.
This new account has been all over the news in Germany because Germans are becoming quite frightened about the health of their banking system and are angry because the German economy was largely absent from the bubbles of the past decade. Germans are beginning to ask quite openly why banks like Commerzbank and the state-owned land banks as well as institutions like Hypo Real Estate are being rescued with taxpayer money. This is a debate now ongoing in a number of countries, the U.S., the U.K. and Ireland most prominent among them. In an election year in Germany, this issue is sure to have an impact. (more)