Returns on private assets in selected EMU countries

In our latest report “Returns on private assets in selected EMU countries”, we investigate household savings behavior in nine European countries since 2003. In doing so, we are not only interested in the volume of savings but also in the contributions of investment income and value gains – the implicit yield on financial assets – before, during and after the crisis.

The pace of growth tapered off in the last five years in the shadow of the extreme monetary policy (2012 – 2016) in comparison to the pre-crisis years (2003 – 2007) – however, the slowdown was less pronounced than expected: the average annual rate of growth in per cap-ita assets in the countries analyzed slipped back from 5.3 percent to 3.7 percent. At the same time, the drivers of asset growth – savings and value gains – changed considerably: While the latter were almost 50 percent higher than in the pre-crisis years, savings per capita have slipped by more than 40 percent to EUR 1,060 a year over the last five years.

This trend can be observed in all of the countries analyzed. Not surprisingly, the most dra-matic drop in the volume saved has been witnessed among Italian, Spanish and Portuguese households: over the last five years, per capita financial asset formation in these countries has been between 80 percent and 90 percent lower than in the pre-crisis years. This is due to the severe economic crisis, which forced households not just to cut back on the amount they were saving, but in some cases even to sell financial investments.

However, there is one exception: German households, renowned as the "savings world champions", actually stepped up their savings efforts by one third to EUR 2,080 per capita and year in the period from 2012 to 2016. As a consequence, overall asset growth remained stable.

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