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Euro crisis: Allianz boss Michael Diekmann talks about the greatest risk for the Germans

The Euro crisis appears in some newspapers, but not in others. It is true that the European finance union has taken a severe battering. Not least because of loans financed by more loans, in order to provide billions in support of countries such as Greece, Portugal and Spain.

Allianz boss Michael Diekmann, head of Europe’s largest insurance company, has now given his views in an interview on the greatest risk for the Germans: Diekmann’s opinion: “Germany is in good shape due the current upturn.” Still, warns the insurance specialist, whose business is to insure against risks, Germany would soon be faced with “enormous changes, which however ... are not being tackled decisively enough.” The loss of the currency would be accompanied by problems which Diekmann summarised as follows: “The longer we wait, the more serious the problems will become. Increasing taxes, youth violence, data misuse, terror.” The greatest risk, according to Diekmann, was the ageing of the population, and the associated increased costs to the health system.

Increasing the pensionable age to 69 would be a first step towards dealing with these costs, although the declined succeeding generation will not fill the social systems enough to create a balanced relationship. The state therefore has to pile more and more into the coffers, in order to ensure the necessary care, but the state itself is also living on credit, incurring new debts every time it helps the health system, which can no longer be repaid. Since all the countries of the European Currency Union are currently living on credit, risks such as national bankruptcy and inflation can no longer be excluded. “A catastrophe for the long-term accumulation of wealth”, according to Diekmann. Diekmann anticipates no disintegration of the financial community; he says: “Europe must help weak countries.” Above all Greece. The country, which is unimaginably deep in debt, could not be rescued by debt rescheduling alone. In the long term, Diekmann sees no possible rescue of the country simply by financial injections from the other countries of the Union. He advocates an “industrialisation plan, a sort of Marshall Plan.” With regard to the other countries who have asked for financial support, such as Ireland, Spain or Portugal, Diekmann says: “We need a genuine balance of all future risks.”

In reply to the last question of the reporters, that many people in Germany see their savings threatened by inflation, Diekmann said: “Our experts anticipate an inflation rate over the coming years of 3 or 4%. This is no small figure, but it is also not enormous inflation.” Diekmann advises the Germans not to be overly worried, and gives tips how everyone can protect themselves against devaluation of their savings; Diekmann advises going in for property and regular income, either through employment or rental income for example. Diekmann ultimately comes to the conclusion: “Those who suffer mostly from inflation are people who have to live on their savings, particularly pensioners.”

[Source: Bild-Zeitung, 23rd May 2011, page 2]