ECONOMY

Borrowers set to save money

Households and enterprises are in for a total annual benefit of 5 billion euros, or 2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, from the rapid decline in interest rates. The plunging rates will considerably lighten the burden of the crisis for companies and especially households, which reap the greatest benefits from the slide of the Euribor rate. For a 25-year, 150,000-euro mortgage loan, the current monthly instalment is around 615 euros, against 876 euros a few months ago. The reduction in the monthly payment is as high as 30 percent and borrowers save some 3,132 euros on an annual basis. The benefit for enterprises is far smaller, as the sharp drop in the Euribor rate was offset by the banks’ repricing of loans. Banks gradually adjusted their rates for corporate loans, increasing their margin as they were entitled. This was necessary due to the deterioration of financial conditions, bank officials said as well as the heightened credit risk, as illustrated by the increase in bad loans. The process of repricing loans had started before the crisis, bank officials said, as the vast majority of businesses enjoyed interest rates that could not be justified by their size, financial standing and credit rating. However, the drop in rates does not favor everyone: Deposits briefly saw rates as high as 6 to 7 percent in the last quarter of 2008 but now these have shrunk to no more than 2 percent for time deposits and around 1 percent for savings accounts.