Pfandbrief: After 200 years, it’s come to this
The inclusion of the Pfandbrief in the German government’s banking guarantee marks a turning point – not just in the financial downturn but in the product’s entire history. Jethro Wookey reports.
IT IS COMMONLY impressed on investors that in more than 200 years of existence, the German Pfandbrief, the benchmark of the modern covered bond world, has never experienced a single case of default. This is not just a fact that is trotted out for marketing purposes in the same way that, say, a hedge fund might boast that none of its investments had lost money. The Pfandbrief’s perfect record is, rather than merely an affirmation of its strict safety regulations, an integral part of its make-up. Protection from default is not so much a priority as a purpose. Measures to safeguard the Pfandbrief holders of an insolvent issuer are comprehensive, and as a result there has never been a case of failure. There has also never, in more than 200 years, been a case of the German government having to reassure the market that it is ready to step in and aid the Pfandbrief if the need arises, simply because that need was never foreseen. Until now.
On October 13, the German government introduced a draft bill for the financial market stabilization act, in which it made particular reference to the Pfandbrief.