The Deutsche Bundesbank ( BBk for short ) is the central bank of Germany with its headquarters in Frankfurt am Main and part of the European System of Central Banks . It is a federal legal entity under public law and belongs to the indirect public administration . The head office of the bank in Frankfurt am Main has the position of a supreme federal authority (see Bundesbank Act ).
Predecessor "Bank deutscher Länder" (1948–1957)
The history of the Deutsche Bundesbank is closely related to the currency history of Germany after the end of the Second World War . In view of the complete breakdown of the German currency after the war, a currency reform became necessary. In the western zones of occupation including West Berlin, the German mark replaced the practically worthless Reichsmark on June 21, 1948 . The currency reform was based on the laws of the Allied military government . In preparation, the Western powers established a new, two-tier central bank system in their zones of occupation , based on the Federal Reserve System of the United States of America (USA) as a model in its strictly federal structure . It consisted of the legally independent state central banks in the individual countries of the western occupation zones and the Bank deutscher Länder in Frankfurt am Main, founded on March 1, 1948 . The state central banks acted as central banks in their areas. The Bank deutscher Länder, whose share capital was with the state central banks, was responsible for issuing banknotes, coordinating politics and for certain central tasks - including foreign exchange management . The highest body of the two-tier central banking system was the Central Bank Council set up at the Bank deutscher Länder. It consisted of its President, the Presidents of the State Central Banks and the President of the Board of Directors of the Bank of German States. In particular, the Central Bank Council determined the discount policy and the newly introduced minimum reserve policy . It also drew up guidelines for open market policy and lending .
After the bad experience with a central bank tied to instructions from the government, the principle of an independent central bank prevailed in Germany after the Second World War . From the beginning, the Bank deutscher Länder was independent of German state organs , including the federal government that became active in September 1949 ( Adenauer I cabinet ). It gained its autonomy from the Allies in 1951.
Before the Maastricht Treaty (1958–1993)
By Basic Law , which came into force on May 24, 1949 , the federal government was obliged to set up a currency and central bank as the Bundesbank, thereby replacing the occupation law that had previously been in force with German law. However, the legislature did not comply with this mandate until 1957. With the law on the Deutsche Bundesbank (BBankG) of July 26, 1957, the two-tier structure of the central bank system was eliminated. Responsibilities were transferred to the newly established Deutsche Bundesbank. To this end, the state central banks, including the Berlin Central Bank, were merged with the Bank of German States. The state central banks were no longer legally independent central banks, but became part of the Bundesbank as main administrations. They kept the name “Landeszentralbank” and in some cases remained independent in their decisions, for example with regard to their participation in monetary policy decisions in the Central Bank Council (so-called reservation responsibility).of the
The Frankfurt-based directorate consisted of the President and Vice-President of the Deutsche Bundesbank and up to six other members. As a managing body, it was responsible for implementing the decisions of the Central Bank Council. The board of directors managed and administered the bank and was in particular responsible for business with the federal government and its special assets, for business with credit institutions operating throughout Germany, for foreign exchange transactions and transactions with foreign countries as well as for transactions on the open market.
The Central Bank Council continued to function as the highest decision-making body of the Deutsche Bundesbank, deciding on the Bundesbank's currency and credit policy and drawing up guidelines for management and administration. In addition to the members of the board of directors, it also included the eleven presidents of the state central banks.
The state central banks carried out the business and administrative matters falling within their area on their own responsibility. The Bundesbank Act expressly assigned them to do business with public authorities and administrations as well as with credit institutions in their area. In addition, the branches (now branches) were subordinate to the state central banks. The management was incumbent on a board of directors, which usually consisted of the president and the vice-president of the state central bank.
During the Cold War , the Bundesbank bunker in Cochem was built in the Moselle valley from 1962 to 1964 to store an emergency currency . The top secret facility, which was operated until 1988, was used to store up to DM 15 billion.
With the State Treaty on the creation of a currency, economic and social union between the Federal Republic of Germany and the then German Democratic Republic (GDR), which came into force on July 1, 1990 , the D-Mark became the sole legal tender in both German states. At the same time, responsibility for monetary policy in the extended area of application of the D-Mark was transferred to the Deutsche Bundesbank. For this purpose, in implementation of the state treaty of May 18, 1990, the provisional administrative office was set up in Berlin, which was active beyond the state association on October 3, 1990 until October 31, 1992. The organizational structure of the Deutsche Bundesbank was adjusted to the changed circumstances due to the German reunification through an amendment of the Bundesbank Act and at the same time tightened. From the formerly eleven state central banks and the provisional administrative office in Berlin, nine state central banks with main administrative areas of almost the same size were created.
After the Maastricht Treaty (1993)
The Maastricht Treaty, which came into force on November 1, 1993, laid the foundations for European Economic and Monetary Union . National responsibilities for monetary policy have been transferred to the European System of Central Banks (ESCB), consisting of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the national central banks (NCBs) of the EU countries, at Community level . With regard to the European Economic and Monetary Union, the Bundesbank Act was last fundamentally amended in 2002 with the 7th Act amending the Act on the Deutsche Bundesbank of April 30, 2002 and gave the bank its current organizational structure.
In the course of the financial crisis from 2007 and the euro crisis , the balance sheet total , TARGET2 balance and deposit facility of the Deutsche Bundesbank increased significantly. In March 2012, the balance sheet total rose to over one trillion euros for the first time. The average balance sheet total in 2002 was EUR 222.4 billion. In August 2012, at 1,135.4 billion euros, it was five times as much as in 2002. The central banks of the euro zone, including the Deutsche Bundesbank, operate the European large-value payment system TARGET2. When the platform was launched in November 2007, the Bundesbank had a balance of 72.6 billion euros. In August 2012 the Bundesbank's claim against the national central banks of the euro zone (positive TARGET2 balance) rose to an all-time high of EUR 751.4 billion. Since November 2007 this corresponds to an increase of 935 percent. Between 1999 and 2006, the average international position was 1.6 billion euros.
Commercial banks made use of the Bundesbank's deposit facility in April 2012, a record amount of EUR 276.9 billion. The mean value for the period from January 2002 to August 2008 is 200 million euros.
Total assets of the Deutsche Bundesbank
TARGET2 balances of the Deutsche Bundesbank
Deposit facility of the Deutsche Bundesbank
Controversial money transfers with Iran (2011)
In connection with its function as a clearing house (see section Central Bank ), the Bundesbank, together with the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Economic Affairs , came under fire at the end of March 2011 when it became known that the Deutsche Bundesbank had been executing transfers in one volume since the beginning of February 2011 of 9 billion euros is said to have enabled Iran to circumvent US sanctions. Because of the sanctions, oil buyers do not transfer money directly to the Iranian state, but via the Bundesbank to the European-Iranian Commercial Bank (EIHB) in Hamburg. The EIHB is owned by the Iranian banks Bank of Industry and Mine , Bank Mellat , Bank Tejarat and Bank Refah , all of which operate under the control of the Islamic Republic of Iran - and in some cases even affected by international sanctions . The sanctions, in the form of trade restrictions and asset freezes, are intended to limit the spread of conventional and nuclear weapons.
The Deutsche Bundesbank continues to exist after the Maastricht Treaty. Its new tasks were redefined with the 7th law amending the "Law on the German Federal Bank" of April 30, 2002. They are defined in Section 3 of the Bundesbank Act . There it says: “As the central bank of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Deutsche Bundesbank is an integral part of the European System of Central Banks. It contributes to the fulfillment of its tasks with the primary aim of ensuring price stability, holds and manages the currency reserves of the Federal Republic of Germany , ensures the bank-based processing of domestic and international payment transactions and contributes to the stability of the payment and clearing systems . "
As a central bank, the Bundesbank supplies the economy with cash and ensures that cash is physically fit for circulation . She checks the cash deposited by the banks and value service providers, secures counterfeit money and hands it over to the police. It exchanges DM stocks still in circulation without notice and replaces banknotes that have been destroyed ( NAC - National Analysis Center ). In addition, it provides information about the cash security features and weekly about the amount of cash in circulation .
A distinction is made here between two main functions: First, the Bundesbank is a refinancing source and clearing house for credit institutions . The credit institutions can cover their need for central bank money through the Bundesbank / ECB using so-called refinancing instruments. The related control of the money supply was an essential task of the Bundesbank until the end of 1998. Since January 1, 1999, the primary goal of the ECB has been to ensure price level stability with the help of its monetary policy strategy . Credit institutions can invest unneeded funds with the Bundesbank / ECB at short notice (so-called deposit facility ). The Bundesbank supports cross-network payment transactions between domestic and foreign commercial banks , for example large -value payments via RTGSplus , TARGET and, in the future, TARGET2 . This is intended to transfer amounts in the billions to the second between banks across the EU.
A bank's sort code (BLZ) acts as the bank's account number at the Bundesbank.
On the other hand, the Bundesbank is involved in banking supervision . She works closely with BaFin on this. The main concern here is to ensure the stability of the financial system. The Bundesbank takes on the ongoing monitoring of the banks, i.e. it evaluates the annual financial statements of the institutes and carries out audits in accordance with Section 44 of the KWG (see German Banking Act ). It supplies the statistical data on the economic situation of the credit institutions. BaFin issues rulings, audit orders and circulars, mostly in coordination with the Bundesbank.
As a bank of the state, the Bundesbank maintains free accounts for federal, state and local authorities (including universities) as well as for the social insurance institutions and processes normal banking services for them; this function is known as a fiscal agent. However, not all public authorities make use of this possibility of handling their banking transactions through the Bundesbank; the Free State of Bavaria, for example, uses the Bayerische Landesbank as its house bank.
All accounts are kept on a credit basis, i. H. Due to the prohibition of monetary state financing by the central banks enshrined in Article 101 of the EU Treaty (now: Article 123 (1) TFEU), the Bundesbank is not permitted to grant loans to the public sector.
The Bundesbank also maintains current accounts and custody accounts for charitable institutions and for its own employees. The service for the latter came under fire in 2013 for its cost. Furthermore, the accounts at the Deutsche Bundesbank are not subject to monitoring according to the lending business. Until the end of 2012, it was still possible for all private individuals to open custody accounts and to purchase federal securities (from 2003 through the Federal Securities Administration , now the German Finance Agency , for which the Bundesbank, however, continued to carry out securities transactions). In addition, it enabled private individuals without a current account to deposit cash into current accounts in Germany for a fee of one euro per transaction. Since March 1, 2012, for economic reasons, this has only been possible for payments to authorities or institutions that have an account with the Bundesbank.
The Bundesbank maintains nine main administrations (the former state central banks ) and 38 branches in the federal states . A reduction to 31 branches is planned by 2025. The branches are available to banks , public administrations , value-added service providers (WDL) and Bundesbank employees for the supply of cash and the processing of cashless payments . It is also possible to exchange DM cash for euros.
The Bundesbank is responsible for managing currency reserves . These are all assets of the Bundesbank that are not on euro denominated, for example, gold reserves , varieties , securities in foreign currency and deposits in foreign currency at banks. The currency reserves are equivalent to their own currency. They are invested as profitably as possible and also provide an opportunity to intervene in the event of strong fluctuations in the exchange rate . The Bundesbank's gold reserves are the second largest after the US Federal Reserve's gold reserves. According to its own information, the Bundesbank currently manages 3384 tons of gold from Frankfurt (as of December 31, 2014) at a market value of around 140 billion euros (as of November 4, 2011). The majority of these gold reserves are historically and market-related at the Bundesbank in Frankfurt, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York , the Bank of England in London and, to a small extent, in Paris at the Banque de France . The Bundesbank decided at the beginning of 2013 to revise the gold storage concept. In the future, half of the gold reserves are to be stored in Germany. The Paris warehouse is to be completely abandoned by 2020.
The Bundesbank repeatedly rejected calls for the gold reserves to be sold, including with reference to the lack of interest income . She writes: Even in a monetary union, national gold reserves have a function of securing confidence and stability for the common currency. [...] Against this background, gold represents an asset for the Bundesbank that meets its demands for intrinsic value and diversification of its portfolio - consisting of foreign exchange and gold as currency reserves. This thesis is controversial among economists.
(with predecessor institutions since 1948)
- 1948–1957: Karl Bernard , Chairman of the Central Bank Council of the Bank deutscher Länder
- 1948–1957: Wilhelm Vocke , President of the Board of Directors of the Bank deutscher Länder, from August 1, 1957 President of the Deutsche Bundesbank
- 1958–1969: Karl Blessing , President of the Deutsche Bundesbank
- 1970–1977: Karl Klasen , President of the Deutsche Bundesbank
- 1977–1979: Otmar Emminger , President of the Deutsche Bundesbank
- 1980–1991: Karl Otto Pöhl , President of the Deutsche Bundesbank
- 1991–1993: Helmut Schlesinger , President of the Deutsche Bundesbank
- 1993–1999: Hans Tietmeyer , President of the Deutsche Bundesbank
- 1999–2004: Ernst Welteke , President of the Deutsche Bundesbank
- 2004: Jürgen Stark , interim chairman
- 2004–2011: Axel A. Weber , President of the Deutsche Bundesbank
- since 2011: Jens Weidmann
- 1958–1969: Heinrich Troeger
- 1970–1977: Otmar Emminger
- 1977–1979: Karl Otto Pöhl
- 1980–1991: Helmut Schlesinger
- 1991-1993: Hans Tietmeyer
- 1993–1998: Johann Wilhelm Gaddum
- 1999–2006: Jürgen Stark
- 2006–2011: Franz-Christoph Zeitler
- 2011–2014: Sabine Lautenschläger
- since 2014: Claudia Buch
The board of directors is the highest body of the Bundesbank. It is made up of:
- the president
- the Vice President and
- four other members of the board.
For three board members (president, vice-president and one further member) the right of nomination lies with the federal government . The other three members are proposed by the Federal Council in agreement with the Federal Government. All members of the Management Board are appointed by the Federal President in accordance with Section 7 (3) of the Bundesbank Act , usually for eight years, but at least for five years.
The remuneration of the President in 2015 amounted to 436,355.56 euros, that of the Vice President to 348,061.83 euros.
As of October 1, 2018, the Executive Board consists of the following members:
- President Jens Weidmann (communication, law, economics, research center) - since May 1, 2011
- Vice President Claudia Buch (Financial Stability, Audit, Statistics) - since May 13, 2014
- Johannes Beermann (cash, human resources, administration and construction, procurement center) - since January 16, 2015
- Joachim Wuermeling (banking supervision, information technology, risk controlling) - since November 1, 2016
- Burkhard Balz (payment transactions and settlement systems, economic education, University of the Deutsche Bundesbank and international central bank dialogue) - since September 1, 2018
- Sabine Mauderer (Markets and Human Resources) - since September 1, 2018
On December 31, 2018, the Deutsche Bundesbank employed a total of 10,970 people. At the end of the DM period on December 31, 2001, there were still 14,800 full-time positions.
Up to and including 2010, the Bundesbank achieved profits of over one billion euros (see graphic), primarily from the refinancing of credit institutions and from an interest-bearing investment of currency reserves . The result from the investment of currency reserves is also influenced by currency fluctuations: Rising exchange rates for foreign currencies tend to have a positive effect, while falling exchange rates have a negative effect. The amount of the profits from the refinancing of the credit institutions runs parallel to the interest rate level .
Since it has no private owners, the Deutsche Bundesbank transfers its profits to the federal government as the owner in accordance with the provision in Section 27 of the Bundesbank Act. Up to 3.5 billion euros are available for the current federal budget , the excess amount has been used since 1995 to repay the debts of the Inherited Debt Redemption Fund . In the years 1976–1979, the Bundesbank made losses from the revaluation of its currency reserves (the reason was the weakness of the US dollar and pound sterling (Great Britain)). In 1997 it made a profit of the equivalent of 12.4 billion euros, the highest profit in its history.
As a result of the law to secure employment and stability in Germany ( economic stimulus package II ), the distribution of the Bundesbank profit changed from January 1, 2010. Last but not least, since the Inherited Debt Repayment Fund will soon be fully repaid, the profit exceeding the share for the federal budget will flow into the repayment of the special assets for the economic stimulus package II from 2010 onwards gradually to 2.5 billion euros.
In March 2012, the Bundesbank published a drop in profits for 2011 of 70%. Only 643 million euros, instead of the expected 2.5 billion euros, could be transferred to the Federal Ministry of Finance. The reason for this lies in the increase in loan loss provisions from EUR 4.1 billion to EUR 7.7 billion. The risk of defaults on government bonds, for example from Greece, which the European Central Bank (ECB) bought during the financial crisis, made this decision necessary, according to Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann.
In 2012 the Bundesbank only made a profit of 664 million euros. The Federal Minister of Finance had budgeted 1.5 billion euros. In 2012, too, the Bundesbank set up new provisions worth billions for risky transactions on behalf of the European Central Bank (ECB).
In 2013 the profit rose to 4.6 billion euros. The federal government had expected at least 2.5 billion euros in its budget. The President of the Bundesbank explained the clear plus with the fact that there was no need for further risk provisioning. The background to this was the easing of the euro debt crisis.
In 2014 the profit amounted to 2.95 billion euros; a decrease of 35% compared to 2013. Since interest income from refinancing operations is still the largest source of income for the Bundesbank, the lowering of the key rate to 0.05% in 2014 resulted in lower revenues. The risk provision (as of: 14.4 billion euros) to increase profit was not released because, according to Joachim Nagel, member of the board of directors of the Bundesbank, the low interest rate is an increased risk factor in the context of lending, as well as a deteriorated annual forecast for 2015 brings itself.
For 2015, the Bundesbank posted a profit of 3.2 billion euros. Compared to the previous year, the surplus increased mainly due to an increase in the net result from financial operations, write-offs and risk provisioning. In contrast, net interest income fell.
The Deutsche Bundesbank maintains a conference center in Eltville am Rhein .
Since 2011, the Bundesbank has maintained a special account at the Bundeskasse Halle (Saale) (account no. 86001030, bank code 86000000) to which citizens can transfer funds under the subject "Debt repayment" to repay Germany's national debt without the possibility of tax deductibility .
In January 2016, the Deutsche Bundesbank announced that a fundamental and extensive renovation of the main building of its headquarters is planned. For this purpose, the staff there will be relocated to offices that can still be rented for the duration of this work. After the approx. Two-year planning phase, construction work will begin in 2018 at the earliest.
The Institute of Contemporary History was awarded in 2017 by the Bundesbank the contract for an extensive research project. The period from 1923 to 1969 is to be examined under economic, social and cultural-historical aspects. The project is set to run for four years and has two blocks with four sub-projects each. The first block focuses on the biographies of the first Bundesbank President Wilhelm Vocke and his successor Karl Blessing, as well as a group biography of the management staff of the young Bundesbank. A country study on occupied Poland is to examine the role of the Reichsbank as an actor in the war of conquest. The second block focuses on the institutional self-image and political fields of action of the central bank in Germany in the period from 1924 to 1969. Are also examined
- Gold and foreign exchange transactions of the Reichsbank in the Third Reich
- Monetary policy (1940 to 1944) in Western Europe as a policy of exploitation
- Participation of the Reichsbank in the financial exploitation of Greece from 1941 to 1943 .
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- David Marsh : The Bundesbank. Doing business with power . C. Bertelsmann, Munich, 1992, ISBN 3-570-00370-1 .
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- Monika Dickhaus: The Bundesbank in Western European Construction - The International Monetary Policy of the Federal Republic of Germany 1848 to 1958 ( Quarterly Issues for Contemporary History , Volume 72); R. Oldenbourg Verlag , Munich 1996, ISBN 3-486-64572-2
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- Bundesdruckerei GmbH
- Giesecke + Devrient GmbH
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- Deutsche Bundesbank: total assets
- Deutsche Bundesbank: TARGET2 balances
- Deutsche Bundesbank: Deposit Facility
- Handelsblatt : March 29, 2011 The Bundesbank's Iran Connection
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- Article 2, paragraph 2 of the law on the Bayerische Landesbank.
- Criticism: Free accounts of the Deutsche Bundesbank ( Memento from November 23, 2013 in the web archive archive.today )
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- Fragdenstaat.de - notification 2014 - blackened.pdf , accessed on May 23, 2018
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- "The price for the rescue madness". Politicians are alarmed by the shrinking Bundesbank profit as a result of the euro crisis. The FDP fears that Germany will face further burdens. The Greens demand more honesty from Schäuble in the debate. In: handelsblatt.com of March 12, 2013, accessed on January 14, 2017.
- Bundesbank transfers a profit of 4.6 billion euros to finance minister. Augsburger Allgemeine , March 13, 2014, accessed April 2, 2017 .
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- Christoph Schäfer: Donation accounts: Alms for Germany. The federal government and Thuringia have created donation accounts to reduce their debts. However, the voluntary donors do not receive a donation receipt - and no thanks either. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , January 17, 2012, accessed on November 24, 2017 .
- Bundesbank press release of January 27, 2016
- New research project