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Expected economic framework parameters

According to forecasts, growth in the global economy will be slower in 2012 than in the reporting year. Although the central banks are likely to stick to their relaxed monetary policies, signs point to only muted growth in the USA and even a slight recession for the eurozone. China is expected to see growth weaken moderately, while inflation remains high. The biggest risks to growth stem from the euro sovereign debt crisis which has not yet been fully resolved.

In the economic downturn phase, the ECB is likely to keep interest rates low and provide extensive liquidity to the banking sector as countermeasures. This consequently strengthens expectations of low money market interest rates. We are not expecting three-month EURIBOR to reach its average level for 2011. At the same time, yields on bonds with good ratings are likely to remain under pressure. Overall, this will probably have a negative impact on the interest margin in the deposit business.

A real recovery in the equity markets is contingent upon a political solution to the sovereign debt crisis and credible stabilisation measures for the financial sector. Weaker growth is likely to affect corporate profit expectations and could place an additional strain on equity markets; other material risk factors relate to flagging growth in China, possible political tension in the Middle East and the high level of sovereign debt in the USA. Conversely, falling inflation risks give the central banks more scope for an expansive monetary policy as a result of subdued growth prospects. All in all, economists at Commerzbank expected the DAX to be up by nearly 10% at 6,400 index points at the end of 2011/start of 2012; 5,200 points is seen as the support line. Although volatility is expected to be strong, it is not possible at present to assess whether the securities trading volume will be as high as in 2011, which was an exceptional year.

Regardless of development in the money and capital markets, we expect the long-term market and investor trends that favour the comdirect group’s direct banking model to continue. An improved internet infrastructure and waning resistance to web-based banking models mean that branch bank customers are considering switching to a direct bank. With the comdirect and ebase apps, we will also be able to benefit from the growing trend towards banking via smartphone.

Further opportunities arise from the fiercely competitive environment for our institutional partners in B2B business. It is in their interests to offer their end customers a complete and largely standardised offering for financial asset accumulation, which is independent of their main bank. With its interlinked offering of partner-specific custody account and B2B-type banking solutions, ebase is geared to meeting this demand.

There may be further refunds as a result of the positive ruling in the tax appeal proceedings in 2011.