The American government plans to distribute money directly to all households. An idea for Germany too? Economists tend to expect something different.

Learning: The Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

Dhe American government plans to provide direct money to citizens of the United States to help stem the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. There is talk of an economic stimulus plan worth more than a trillion dollars.

A model for Germany too? Experts in this country react rather skeptically to the idea of ​​distributing tax checks to all German citizens according to the watering can principle. “Now special groups need liquid funds, for example sole proprietorships, innkeepers, small companies,” said the President of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), Gabriel Felbermayr. And he added: “They have to be given targeted help.” So-called helicopter money – a lump sum payment of funds to all citizens – would also be paid to people who did not need the money.

The union-affiliated Institute for Macroeconomics and Business Cycle Research (IMK) sees it similarly. “We have to specifically help the groups that are particularly affected, i.e. short-time workers and the unemployed,” said its Scientific Director Sebastian Dullien.

F.A.Z. Newsletter Coronavirus

Daily at 12.30 p.m.


The textile retail trade, for example, switched to short-time work because the shops were closed. The employees only receive 60 percent of their income. Self-employed people such as music teachers are even without income. “Here it should be considered whether the state steps in and increases,” said Dullien. “People with secure jobs such as civil servants or doctors do not need a cash bonus now.”

The Trump administration is considering writing a check for $ 1,000 to American citizens as a crisis measure. Hong Kong has also decided to give monetary gifts. “The United States and Hong Kong are doing this because they don’t have as comprehensive a welfare system as we do,” said Dullien. “Many households there are without income when they become unemployed. We have generous short-time working regulations and unemployment benefits. “

IfW President Felbermayr is currently rejecting a general stimulus package in Germany. “On average, people have enough money in their accounts to consume,” he said. “You shouldn’t go shopping or go to cinemas and restaurants right now. We only need an economic recovery after the health crisis. “

Is the ECB doing more?

Rather, it is now the hour for fiscal policy. “Instead of ECB helicopter money, one should think about coronavirus Eurobonds that are designed and temporarily invested for the special emergency,” says Felbermayr: last episode to a reissue of the euro crisis comes. “

In view of the increasing effects of the virus pandemic on Europe, the ECB is once again standing by its own admission to fight the crisis more intensely. If necessary, further impulses will be given, said the central bank in Frankfurt. It is ready to adjust all measures if necessary, should this be necessary. It is a matter of “securing liquidity in the banking system” and ensuring the “smooth transmission” of monetary policy in all countries.

ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos said the central bank would take bold steps should it be necessary. According to council member Robert Holzmann, the central bank has plenty of leeway for this. The “toolbox of monetary policy” is still very well filled, said the head of the Austrian National Bank.

On March 12, the ECB put together a package to support the flow of credit in the economy. For example, banks were recently able to secure cash injections at very favorable interest rates in a first new business of this type. Contrary to what the financial market expected, however, no interest rate cut was initiated – however, the ECB has little room for maneuver. Your key interest rate for supplying the institutes with money is zero. The deposit rate, the interest rate for banks that hoard money at the ECB, is already minus 0.5 percent.

However, ECB boss Christine Lagarde did not rule out interest rate cuts in the future. If this is necessary, “we will do it,” she said after the latest interest rate meeting. The chief economist of the Swiss bank Bantleon, Daniel Hartmann, assumes that completely new instruments could also be used. He thinks it is conceivable that the ECB could also acquire listed funds (ETF) in addition to its bond purchases.

He also did not rule out the purchase of bank bonds. His prognosis: “Depending on the severity of the economic downturn, further steps could possibly be decided before the next scheduled interest rate meeting of the Governing Council on April 30th.”