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Could German State Banks Collapse?

If a state-owned bank were to go under, the consequences could be disastrous for the whole German economy

Ingrid Matthäus-Maier, a member of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the CEO of the state-owned KfW banking group, is undoubtedly in one of Germany's highest earnings brackets. Although her annual salary of €418,000 ($614,000) is substantially lower than that of her counterpart at Deutsche Bank, Josef Ackermann, who earns a tidy €13 million a year, she does earn more than twice the salary of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has to make do with a mere €200,000.

That's nice for Matthäus-Maier. A lawyer by profession who was a financial expert for the SPD for many years, she would not have been able to get on the board of a private bank in 1999, the year she joined the board of KfW -- she lacked the banking experience required by law. But KfW is not subject to the same regulations as other banks, which explains why Matthäus-Maier doesn't owe government auditors an explanation -- not even now, in the wake of recent public accusations that she botched the IKB crisis.