Why are some people so nervous?
Many thousands of kilometers from Germany, in the American Silicon Valley, the current crisis has begun. There, a bank that hardly anyone knew before went bankrupt: Silicon Valley Bank. Their customers were start-ups from all over the world. The bank had invested their deposits in long-term government bonds, which have fallen sharply in value in recent months. Many insecure customers have now withdrawn their money at the same time, the bank stumbled and was finally insolvent. Fears that other banks would have a similar construct spread around the world. A few days later, the next shock followed: The president of the Saudi National Bank, which is a major shareholder of Credit Suisse, said in an interview that he did not want to inject any more money into Credit Suisse. Credit Suisse has been struggling with problems for months, and in the already nervous market, the share price rattled down after this statement. Individually, the cases in the USA and Switzerland have nothing to do with each other. What unites them, however, is that they have severely damaged investor confidence. They fear further bankruptcies and feel reminded of the beginnings of the financial crisis in 2008.
Is the money in my account at risk?
Editor in the "Wert" section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.
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Currently, there are no signs that a German bank could get into big trouble. And even if a bank goes bankrupt, customers' money is protected by the statutory deposit insurance. For up to 100,000 euros, this protection applies to individuals within the European Union. For married couples with a joint account, it is up to 200,000 euros. This protection applies per bank and includes current accounts, call money and time deposits. Some German banks advertise that even higher amounts are covered – namely via the voluntary deposit guarantee fund of the Association of German Banks. Savings banks and cooperative banks also promise to support each other in an emergency. "However, consumers should not necessarily rely on such promises," says Niels Nauhauser of the Baden-Württemberg Consumer Center. Savers should definitely divide amounts of more than 100,000 euros among several institutions. The following applies to shares, bonds and investment funds: The bank only holds them in safekeeping. However, they belong to the investor and are a so-called special fund on the bank's balance sheet. This means that if the bank goes bankrupt, shares & Co. do not belong to the insolvency estate. Affected customers can then have their investments transferred to a custody account at a new bank.
How safe is it if I have money abroad?
In principle, deposit insurance applies in all member states of the European Union. The money should be secured. Consumer advocate Niels Nauhauser nevertheless advises caution. In the event of a bank failure, the payment is made via the national guarantee schemes, so savers are dependent on the respective country. "If you want the highest level of security, you should only invest your money in institutions that are covered by the German statutory deposit insurance," says Nauhauser. Savers can find out which banks these are on the website of the compensation scheme of German banks.
Should I sell my shares? Or is now a good time to start?
Fear is never a good counselor. "The biggest mistake would be to sell everything in panic now," says Andreas Hackethal, professor of finance at the Leibniz Institute Safe in Frankfurt. No one can predict how prices will develop in the coming weeks. And finding the right time to re-enter is almost impossible. "Even those who miss only a few days can lose a lot of returns," says Hackethal. This is illustrated by the following figures: Let's say someone has invested in American stocks over the past 30 years and missed the best 40 trading days. Then this investor ends up with an average annual return of close to zero. Those who stuck with it, on the other hand, received around 8 percent annually. Hectic rebalancing the portfolio can therefore have fatal consequences. It is better to sit out crises. Or even to take the low prices as an opportunity. "Those who invest for the long term and withstand fluctuations can certainly strike," says Henning Gebhardt, investor and capital market expert. However, shareholders of banks could need strong nerves. Depending on what happens in the coming weeks, stocks may continue to swing up or down. In addition to Credit Suisse, the share prices of many other banks have also suffered greatly. Betting on a single sector is never a good idea. It is important to spread your own assets broadly across many industries and countries.