Apr 7 2013

Selective truths and Spanish riches: The Bundesbank’s study on household wealth

By Stefan Bauchowitz and José Javier Olivas*

At the height of the Cyprus bailout crisis, the German Central Bank, the Bundesbank, has introduced into the public discourse the notion that Southern Europeans are richer than Germans. This claim is based on a study on household wealth and a rather questionable comparison across countries. While the Bundesbank has noted the limitations of this comparison in the fine print, it is hard to believe that this is not a Bundesbank attempt to sway public opinion against further bailouts. In the current context this manoeuvre is rather reckless as it fuels some already significant and growing discords. The Bundesbank’s deception provides a good example of sound studies being misappropriated for advancing the political agenda of different actors in the current crisis.

From fact to fiction

On 21 March, the Bundesbank presented the findings of its panel study on Household Finances (“Private Haushalte und ihre Finanzen”). The Bundesbank’s study, part of an Euro-Area effort to collect data on Household Finances and Consumption highlights the gross inequality in the distribution of wealth in Germany. In the presentation and the accompanying press release, the Bundesbank claims that the median income of households in Germany is lower than that of households in Spain or Italy. However, both the comparison of wealth of German households with that of other European countries and the timing of the presentation, make the Bundesbank seem rather disingenuous.

Bundesbank

As the original presentation suggests and most media have acknowledged, the study is not suitable to establish meaningful cross-national comparisons. In particular, the Spanish Survey of Household Finances, which the Bundesbank refers to, is based on data from 2008 which does not reflect the effects of the current crisis such as growing unemployment, lower levels of disposable income, and most importantly, depreciation of real estate. According to the Spanish survey, 89.2% of the total wealth of Spanish households is linked to real-estate. Standard and Poor’s estimate that since March 2008, Spanish house prices have declined by 26% and are expected to drop a further 20%, so the current wealth of Spanish households is considerably lower than that captured in the report used for the comparison.

There are a series of erroneous assumptions in this public discourse triggered by the Bundesbank. First, Southern European households are not bailed out. Insolvent banks are bailed out or as far as governments have assumed banks debts, states have been bailed out. More importantly, the comparison of households’ wealth is highly misleading in the context of a discourse on solidarity and redistribution. For instance, the larger public sector and better pensions and services that German citizens enjoy are not taken into consideration. The structure of households varies across countries. According to Eurostat, German households have 2.0 members on average while French have 2.2, Italians 2.4 and Spanish 2.7. Moreover, as the Bundesbank shows, home ownership in Germany (44.2%) is much lower than in France (57.9%), Italy (68.4%) and Spain (82.7%). Because of these structural and cultural differences a comparison of household wealth amounts to a comparison of apples and oranges.

Notwithstanding the inherent incomparability of the data – and in stark contrast to the study’s methodological rigour – the Bundesbank chose to frame its findings in such a way that casual observers would only reach one conclusion: that German tax payers, being poorer than Southern Europeans, should not have to bail out the crisis countries.

Reactions in the press

Surprisingly though, most German media did not fully embrace the Bundesbank’s discourse. The press has largely qualified the results of the study and questioned the comparability of the data. Even Bild, a tabloid usually quick to exploit every opportunity for populist exaggeration, questions the result. Spiegel Online goes so far to criticise the Bundesbank for its rather inept attempt at generating outrage.
Most media present some background on why German households appear to be poorer, pointing to the fact that Germans tend to prefer to rent, rather than own residential property.

Unfortunately, this has not kept them from running with catchy, if grossly misrepresenting headlines that resulted in the furtherance of anti-bailout message. The headlines used by newspapers such as the Frankfurter RundschauDie Welt and faz.net misleadingly claim “Spaniards richer than Germans” or similar versions of this message.

The notion of greater Spanish, French and Italian wealth has found its way into the debate as if it were a self-evident truth. Der Spiegel (25 March, page 32) commented on the deposit tax in Cyprus: “No one in the crisis countries has so far been expected to take a cut in wealth [to solve the crisis]. But why not? According to a recent study by the Bundesbank, Spaniards are richer than Germans.” And for Passauer Neue Presse , the study has “done away with the fairy tale that Germany is the rich uncle” who should be liable for his poor relatives. Other commentators and politicians, too, have been quick to call, however naively, for a responsibility of domestic savers in bail-outs. Unsurprisingly, the readers’ comments are considerably more vitriolic, and it appears as if the Bundesbank has managed to reach the intended audience.

The foreign press has also echoed this issue. Most articles emphasise the limited comparability of the study reproducing the caveats already suggested by the Bundesbank and German press. In Spain,  El Mundo points out that the provision of public services and social insurance is not part of the Bundesbank’s assessment of wealth, which makes any meaningful  comparison impossible. El Mundo refers to a study that shows that a Spanish family would need 15 children and earn less than 35,630 Euros per year to enjoy the same level of benefits as a German family of four.

El Economista accuses the Bundesbank’s president, Jens Weidman, of misusing the study to consolidate the Bundesbank’s position that Southern countries should bear the costs of the crisis. In France, the financial newspaper Les Echos criticises the comparison and says that this is a move to put pressure on the ECB and reminds its readers that the study does not count the substantial pension claims of Germans towards household wealth.

Bad practice

Making these comparisons across countries is either a schoolboy error that should not happen at the Bundesbank or just a borderline unethical strategy to foster an “anti-bailout” discourse in Germany. As an academic, the lead researcher of the study, Ulf von Kalckreuth should be aware that selective contextualisation of evidence to advance political goals is not an example of good academic practice.

The Bundesbank has set into motion a discourse which risks fuelling animosities that are already present in the European public sphere. Understanding the current crisis is no doubt complex, given the differences in European economies, divergent national interests and the increasingly divisive public discourses on the crisis. Institutions such as the Bundesbank and the press have a responsibility to provide accurate, fair and nuanced information that can help better understand the crisis and identify potential solutions rather than continue the blame game. The Bundesbank did no one a favour by peddling its reductivist and deliberate misinterpretation of the available facts.

The press has shown surprising restraint and largely provided a lukewarm response to the Bundesbank anti-bailout lure. However, it has still contributed to the dissemination of misleading information and thus became the Bundesbank’s mouthpiece providing  a platform for a potentially very divisive discourse. Institutions such as the Bundesbank and the press should act more responsibly. In this case the problem was not only the utterly inadequate timing but also the falsehood of the message.

For an updated version of this article go to LSE European Politics & Policy

____________________

Stefan Bauchowitz is a researcher at the Department of International Development at the LSE.

Jose Javier Olivas is an LSE Fellow and editor at Euro Crisis in the Press

Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of the Euro Crisis in the Press blog, nor of the London School of Economics.

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28 Responses to Selective truths and Spanish riches: The Bundesbank’s study on household wealth

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  3. Jose Javier Olivas says:

    For an updated version of this article go to LSE European Politics & Policy: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2013/04/13/bundesbank-rich-south-europeans/

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  7. Thank you so much. I think it is clear that the researchers are not representing the LSE, as my comments are not representing my institution.

    What is amazing for me is that if you rank countries by level of taxation, you get an almost an identical result. So my conclusion is that high taxation leads to low private asset creation, which is a damming statement of the German model of government rather than an accusation against the South of Europe. Clearly the South got many things wrong, but not in terms of low taxation.

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  9. Gunther Kirschner says:

    Such a study is bound to hit methodological issues. Household ownership and pensions are not part of the problem. Germany has a pay-as-you-go system that does by definition not create any assets, its just redistributes. The NPV of state pension claims of any given worker in Germany age 30 is clearly negative (unless life expectancy goes up a lot…)
    If Germans choose to not own their houses you would expect that this decision would translate into higher cash savings as income is not tight in servicing mortgages. But it apparently does not.

    Overall the findings appear about right. There is a large and growing part of German society – largely unappreciated in international media – that is not able to save anything and gets by on low-paid jobs and/or government benefits. This group heavily dilutes the wealth of the other Germany so you come out at statistically at the bottom.
    However, even this group of relatively poor “median” Germans enjoys arguably a higher standard of living than the “median” Greek or Portuguese. But the study did not measure standards of living, just average and median household wealth.

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  11. Werner says:

    There is some interesting and useful analysis in this post, but I’m somewhat surprised at the naive faith both the BuBa and the blog authors place in reported figures (albeit with somewhat different interpretations). Guys, have you been to the real world? Do you know how much Mediterranean cash has gone into the German housing market in recent years? Are you aware of the extent of tax evasion in those countries (explaining both low state revenue and high property ownership)? And do you know how many millions of Germans live on less than a thousand euros a month, leading to virtually no wealth accumulation? The exact figures may be in dispute, but the general thrust of the conclusion, that Germans rank among the lower end of household wealth in Western Europe, is probably true.

  12. Jose Javier Olivas says:

    Hi Stefan,
    I understand your comments but I don’t see how they undermine our argument. Surprinisngly enough the German public opinion instead of being outraged with their own government for facilitating such a disparity in the distribution of the country’s wealth they turn against the Southern neighbours (which according to this sketchy representation have managed to save and create wealth).

    Just to show you that the opinion hosted in this blog are those of the authors and not those of the LSE I invite you to submit your contribution to the blog. It will still be your opinion and not that of the LSE albeit hosted by one of its blogs.

    • First of all – thank you for the invitation, I will gladly accept it.

      As to the public opinion. It is actually quite easy to understand why there is no such outrage: the distribution of wealth is to a very large extent East versus West, and it is persistent (albeit improving, I believe) despite massive transfer payments that have been effectuated. It is also somewhat mitigated by the fact the life in the East is cheaper (especially in terms of housing), so in PPP terms the discrepancy is not as big as it sounds.

      I would also not say that the Germans are turning against the South. Quite the opposite in fact when you see how discussions that should be about how the burden of past bad decision in the countries is shared somehow always ends up at an ad-hominem argument of the style “Merkel is Hitler” rather than leading to a meaningful engagement.

      There is clearly a desire that “means testing” – if you permit me to use that term – is part of the discussion when determining to which extent the burden of recapitalising the local banking systems should be borne by the German taxpayer, and I think that this is a discussion that needs to be pursued. And yes, corrections to the numbers need to be made for all kinds of things because they do look a little bit too extreme, but the Bundesbank analysis is certainly a start.

      • Jose Javier Olivas says:

        Unfortunately as you point the South is turning against Germany. This is why European Institutions should make an effort and try to be careful not to fuel these disputes (Southern governments included).
        East – West is problematic but also within the West the discrepancies are very striking. After all somebody owns the real-estate properties that are not captured in the study for Germany.
        Best
        Jose

  13. Hello Jose,

    thanks a lot for your detailed answers. Let me take some of the points in turn:

    Stefan Bauchowitz and I do not represent the LSE (this is our personal analysis).

    Your blog is hosted on blogs.lse.ac.uk, your Twitter handle is @LSEEurocrisis and your Twitter image figures the LSE logo, so you ARE representing the LSE in the eyes of your readers, whether you have the right to do so or not. You are not Jose & Stefan, you are “the guys from the LSE”.

    you need to take into consideration the services provided by the state

    I agree on this one, but to a large extent this is a question for income comparison (under which Germany indeed looks richer than Spain) rather than a wealth comparison. Having said this, given that public services are paid out of taxes, such services should not be taken into account if you compare pre-tax gross income.

    Imagine 2 countries one without government pension scheme and another like the German one. If a family in the first country wants to guarantee the future would probably undertake a private “pension” scheme or financial saving product. That will be counted as part of their wealth (financial asset) on the other hand the payment that the German family make to the government pension scheme does not appear as wealth but they generate a right to enjoy a future income (not that different from that of some financial products).

    You are forgetting here that in a pay-as-you-go scheme some other household will have to pay for what you call “wealth” here. So everything else being equal, other people will have to save more because they can expect higher social security contributions in the future, so I insist that PAYG pension promises should not be counted in average household wealth. As I have said above, they do however impact the median, because money will be distributed from the richer to the poorer.

    How is it possible that Germany with consistently higher GDP and GNP (total and per-capita) during decades is now claimed to be poorer than Spain

    That is indeed an interesting question. One possible answer is that we are looking at household wealth here, and GDP is households + companies. It is well known that the austerity measures in Germany made company profits skyrocket, whilst people have seen rather a decrease in their living standards, something that German voters are very conscious about.

    You can also divide the wealth of the household by the people living in the average people living in the household (2 in Germany and 2.7 in Spain).

    This comes down to the question if “wealth per household” or “wealth per capita” is more meaningful. I’d say it is something in between, as larger households profit from a number of economies on scale benefits on their capital expenditure, most notably housing and car.

    The problem is that the Bundesbank does not even do that statement (they would not dare because they know better than anyone else the limitations in terms of cross country comparability).

    In my view they are not making the statement because they know about how explosive it is. The fact however is that their numbers show that Germany lacks behind in terms of household wealth behind all of Europe, by a very substantial margin. Now I agree that there are some problems with the study in terms of comparability, but as I said before – I’d expect everyone challenging those numbers to not simply slam them, but to provide an estimate of how those challenges would affect them.

    Best
    Stefan

  14. Jose, you are saying above (my numbering):

    (1) Our analysis points at a flawed comparison because the data were taken in different years and because several elements are not taken into consideration so the conclusion reached is flawed. (2) Spaniards are not richer than Germans.

    I slightly agree with (1) and I disagree that you can make the statement (2). As to point (1) – yes, the study is flawed, but so is any study that I have ever seen that tries to compare things in different countries. This is just something that you have to live with. The key question is: “How flawed is the study?” – ie how much do the the flaws influence the outcome, qualitatively and quantitatively. If you are criticising a study for being wrong – especially in a way that risks being taken up uncritically given that you represent the LSE which is a well-respected institution – then IMO you have a duty to also provide an estimate how wrong the numbers are and – most importantly – whether or not the qualitative conclusions still hold.

    As for point (2) I do not know. But I have been to parts of Spain, I have been to parts of Germany (East and West) and living standards look similar. Madrid and Barcelona are probably much richer than East Germany (including Berlin), but of course Spain also has poorer regions so the net/net is difficult to assess.

    However, the Bundesbank backed their statement with data, and please to attack them on the data (in detail, not in broad brushes) if you disagree. However, your statement (2) is simply an assertion and you have provided zero evidence for it being true, either in the comments or in the post. If you have this evidence, I would love to see it, but otherwise I would think that, after criticising the Bundesbank for badly analysing the data, such a data-free statement is highly inappropriate.

    • Jose Javier Olivas says:

      Dear Stefan,
      Stefan Bauchowitz and I do not represent the LSE (this is our personal analysis).
      The study is not flawed, on the contrary it is an extremely interesting analysis which main finding from our point of view is the huge inequalities in Germany. More of these studies should be conducted.
      Comparisons usually entail stretching some of the variables or categories. This is normal, however in this case the comparison made at the level of household wealth is highly misleading and seems to suggest that Southerners are reacher than Germans. This is an example of how taking partial measurements we can reach conclusions that are flawed.
      Of course there are many Spanish people that are richer than many German people and in some areas of Spain the living conditions (and even wealth) is higher than in some areas of Germany. Nonetheless the average Spaniard is by no means richer than the average German. Selective evidence can be misleading. As you rightly point East Germany and Berlin are poorer than other German areas and Barcelona and Madrid are among the wealthiest parts of Spain. If you want you can look at the Spanish study and analyse regions like Extremadura, Canarias or Andalucia.
      The problem is that the Bundesbank does not even do that statement (they would not dare because they know better than anyone else the limitations in terms of cross country comparability). To our opinion, they just try to induce the press and the general public to reach this conclusion by themselve to back their anti-transfers agenda.
      We are not questioning this agenda, we are simply questioning the manipulation in this case and the fact that out of many possible valid arguments to reject transfers they are using one that is false: Germans being poorer than Spaniards and others.
      Best
      Jose

    • Stefan Bauchowitz says:

      The Bundesbank study itself is not “wrong” is just framed in a grossly misrepresenting manner. It is this misrepresentation that we criticise, rather than the econometrics and accounting. I do not see that we claim that the Bundesbank analysed the data wrongly either, they merely provided descriptive statistics. But they did present them in a distorted context and must have been fully aware of the message they sent. The Bundesbank used the data they collected in 2010/2011 and contrasted it with similar studies from France, Italy, Spain and Austria. I don’t think that any of the data are inherently wrong (unless interviewees in one country consistently lied about their financial situation).

      But there are two major issues when it comes to comparing the data across countries: a) the data collection took place at a different time in Spain and in Germany, which masks the fact that financial and real assets in Spain have lost considerable value during the crisis b) the structure of these countries is vastly different in terms of household size, home ownership, pension claims which leads to very different outcomes in terms of the financial position.

      The reporting on the Bundesbank’s PHF and the ECB HFCN focuses on the median values, presumably because the median values is where the differences are starkest. Using the median makes sense if one wants to make within-country assessments (and in fact a large chunk of the PHF focuses on the inequality within Germany), it’s probably less useful for a cross-country assessment and even less so when it comes to debating bail-outs (which is not the stated goal of either study). In that case a comparison on the aggregate would arguably be more useful.

      When the ECB made available the consolidated data (http://www.ecb.europa.eu/home/pdf/research/HFCS_Statistical_Tables_Wave1.pdf) the German media jumped on it again and even ran with the headline that Germans are the poorest in the Eurozone (http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/ezb-umfrage-deutsche-sind-die-aermsten-im-euroraum-12142944.html), which they base exclusively on median net wealth.

      Personally I don’t think that these figures can or should inform the discourse on whether Germany and Germans should continue to shoulder a great deal of the risks or costs associated with the crisis. Using micro-level data to make macro arguments is a bit tricky.

      In any case, most of the difference in median wealth appears to be due to home ownership. If you only look at home-owning households in Spain and Germany median net wealth is nearly the same (Germany: 215,500; Spain: 214,300) – but again, the different timing means that this would still not take into account the massive depreciation of Spanish real estate after the data were collected (of course, that still does not account for the fact that there are much fewer home-owners in Germany than elsewhere). I suspect a similar exercise could be done regarding pensions, as public and occupational pension plans are excluded from the study, while private pensions appear to be covered. Unfortunately I don’t have data for those at hand but I would venture that the former are quite substantial in Germany compared to Spain, but that is just conjecture.

      The picture is somewhat different for the means, and as I said above I’m a bit reluctant to use the ECB data to argue a point I deem unarguable with the given data (why not also take into account government revenues, income/profits, capital stock, subsoil assets in calculating a country’s wealth/ability to serve as creditor?)

      Nevertheless, a very cursory and crude attempt at harmonisation (at least regarding the housing) might start as follows (data for Germany 2010/11; Spain 2008/9:
      Mean wealth per household: DEU 195,200; ESP 291,400
      Share of real assets DEU 78.8%; ESP 89.7% (this includes valuables as well, so the following calculation has to be taken with more than a pinch of salt)
      Real assets DEU: 153,817, ESP: 261,385 (at onset of crisis) 196,030 (now, assuming 25% depreciation)
      Financial assets DEU: 41,382, ESP: 30,014
      Total DEU: 195,200, ESP 226,053
      Per capita, i.e. controlling for household size (2 in Germany 2.7 in Spain) DEU 97,600; ESP 82,723

      But then again: “Torture numbers and they’ll confess to anything”
      ~Gregg Easterbrook

      • Thanks for the response, and especially for having taken the time to provide some numerical estimates, which I find very important. I also find your results interesting:

        DEU: 195,200, ESP 226,053 per household
        DEU 97,600; ESP 82,723 per capita

        as I have argued below, the truth is probably somewhere between per capita and per household, and I guess we agree that anything within say 20% is not statistically meaningful. So what you seem to be saying is that your best estimate is that – from a wealth point of view – Spain and Germany are roughly equal.

        I still do think that this is an important fact – if you want to call it that – if you want to decide which level of burden sharing is fair.

  15. Ruben García says:

    In Spain people don´t rent because is very expensive. Last 10 years to rent and to buy was similar. Now, in crisis, no jobs, no bank credits for buy home, to rent very expensive, the people returns to fathers home.

    Look for in web pages the price to rent a flat in Madrid and the wages in Spain.

    Sorry for my horrible english.

  16. Whilst I agree with the thrust of your argument – that it is not quite a like for like comparison – I am still surprised by the size of the difference. However, I do not quite agree with many of the examples that you put forward

    - home ownership: the study is looking at home equity, ie home values less mortgage; someone who owns significant equity in his home (and therefore does not have to pay rent, and only a low/no mortgage) is objectively richer

    - public services: public services are paid out of taxes, so if you compare gross incomes then this should not matter – you get what you pay for; Germany is high on this list, but for example Cyprus is at the same level as Germany both for the median and the average income

    - pension: this is true to the extent that the pension is a defined-contribution pension and backed by real asset; if it is a defined benefit pension that is backed by taxes then this does not form part of the household wealth because it is simply a redistribution amongst different households which might impact the median (if the rich give to the poor) but not the average

    What I would like to see – and what I’d challenge you to do, given that you have taken up the subject – is to show some quantitative calculations that show that once all those different factors are taken into account the German population is not only not significantly poorer, but in fact significantly richer than the southern European population, because this is ultimately the argument that German taxpayers – as opposed to local taxpayers – should pay for the recapitalisation of those banks.

    • Jose Javier Olivas says:

      Dear Stefan,
      Thank you very much for your interesting and challenging comments.
      First I would like to say that the Bundesbank study and methodology is solid as we mention in the article. The problem we observe is that they do a comparison that they acknowledge cannot do (see presentation to the press). I will briefly address your questions.
      -the study the Bundesbank did is part of the Household Finance and Consumption Network. The goal of the study was not to find out what country or what households were richer but to analyse the living conditions across Europe.
      -a criticism that can be made (we only suggest it) is that if you want to compare the wealth of countries or the living conditions and consumption of households you need to take into consideration the services provided by the state. The consumption of health, education, transport, etc. is crucial to determine the quality of life of the people in those households. And that was the goal of the study.
      -the point about the pensions is similar to the above point. If you want to compare living conditions and finances you need to somehow take pensions into consideration. Let’s use a simplistic example. Imagine 2 countries one without government pension scheme and another like the German one. If a family in the first country wants to guarantee the future would probably undertake a private “pension” scheme or financial saving product. That will be counted as part of their wealth (financial asset) on the other hand the payment that the German family make to the government pension scheme does not appear as wealth but they generate a right to enjoy a future income (not that different from that of some financial products).
      -The data of the study can be found in the article. It does not require a lot of effort to guess that the more than 25% depreciation (estimated by Standard and Poor’s) is applicable to roughly 89% of the total wealth captured by the Spanish Study (link in the article). You can also divide the wealth of the household by the people living in the average people living in the household (2 in Germany and 2.7 in Spain). Anyway I prefer not to enter these details here. Wealth is a difficult concept to capture. That is why usually indicators and comparisons look at income or production. A reliable comparison of wealth is beyond my means. It requires a much more careful assessment. I just say what the Bundesbank acknowledges, the data are not comparable. The comparison leads to a misleading conclusion.

      On the wider scheme of things, I would challenge you to answer my question now: How is it possible that Germany with consistently higher GDP and GNP (total and per-capita) during decades is now claimed to be poorer than Spain with in addition to lower GDP is accused of wasting money and mismanagement?

      Thanks again,
      Jose

  17. trekeirm says:

    Germans do not “prefer to rent’. Sorry, that’s a ridiculous statement. Most German banks require a 20% down payment on a mortgage. Which is hard to save up with German tax rates. That’s the main reason why people rent and not own.

    • Jose Javier Olivas says:

      In all countries there are similar thresholds. As a matter of fact in Spain usually 20% of the value of the property is required as down payment. Therefore the difference in home ownership goes beyond purely technical requirements and regulation and it is usually linked to other lifestyle and cultural choices.

      • trekeirm says:

        Then where do all these stories about construction workers from South America living on a 1000 EUR net salary buying 3 room apartments for 400,000 EUR in Madrid come from? How can you save up a 80,000 EUR down payment if you are living on a 1000 EUR budget? If you were able to put only 10% per month aside it would take you 67 years to save up this amount. It simple doesn’t make sense. I have a lot of Spanish coworkers and they tell me salaries are very low in Spain (<25k EUR for an experienced Software Engineer in Malaga). How come so many people have not only a house/apartment, but they also own a secondary beach residence? Again, I find it insulting to relate the low ownership rate of Germans to "lifestyle choices". Nothing could be further from the truth. Most people would prefer to live in their own place, rather than a rented one.

        • Jose Javier Olivas says:

          I prefer not to comment on the speculations and examples you mention. The macro data on home ownership are out there and there are studies conducted that you may want to read. Our analysis points at a flawed comparison because the data were taken in different years and because several elements are not taken into consideration so the conclusion reached is flawed. Spaniards are not richer than Germans.

  18. Alec says:

    You say “the Bundesbank chose to frame its findings in such a way that casual observers would only reach one conclusion…”. What is your evidence for this misframing? You do not give even one statement by the Bundesbank that you object to. What is the specific wording that you find so misleading? You attribute an evil intention to the Buba with no evidence.

    • Jose Javier Olivas says:

      Dear Alec,
      Sometimes messages come across through subtle means. The table in the Bundesbank presentation for the press (link to the pdf in the article) with the comparison with Spain, Italy, France and Austria is a clear argumentative leap. You can think this was an innocent table. Most people don’t. Even the German press (despite the headlines) criticised it.
      Thanks for your comment.
      Best

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