WIESBADEN / NEUSS (dpa-AFX) – Despite the Corona crisis, fewer companies went bankrupt in May than a year earlier. But experts warn that this could be the calm before the storm. This is also indicated by a current study by the credit reporting agency Creditreform: According to this, several companies seem to be running out of money. In any case, more and more open invoices are only being paid late. The payment behavior of companies is currently worse than ever since the survey began in summer 2015, complained the credit agency and warned of a chain reaction.
At first glance, the situation in the German economy is still surprisingly good, despite the pandemic. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the German local courts recorded a total of just 1504 bankruptcies in May. That was 9.9 percent less than in the same month last year. Most corporate bankruptcies were in retail, including auto repair shops with 247 cases. Construction companies filed 235 applications for bankruptcy. 168 bankruptcy filings were reported in professional, scientific and technical services and 164 in hospitality. On average, however, the operations were larger than a year ago, because the expected claims of the creditors, at just under 3.1 billion euros, were well above the figure for the same month last year of 2.5 billion euros.
An important reason for the comparatively positive development of the insolvency figures, however, is that the obligation for companies to file for insolvency has been suspended since March 1, 2020. The economic hardship caused by the Corona crisis has not yet been reflected in the bankruptcy balance, the statisticians concluded.
This makes other indicators for assessing the state of the economy all the more important: for example the most recent Creditreform study on payment behavior. Your picture is much darker than the figures from the Federal Statistical Office. The Creditreform experts have evaluated around 3.5 million invoice documents from the first half of the year and come to the conclusion: “Overall, the crisis has put noticeable pressure on liquidity.”
The average length of arrears for open invoices in the German economy rose to 10.82 days in the first half of the year, Creditreform reported. At 2188 euros, the average amount of invoices paid late was also a good 5 percent above the previous year’s level and around 23 percent higher than in 2016.
Negative effects of the pandemic on payment behavior could be observed primarily in industry and in export sectors. Both areas were hit directly by the crisis.
Creditreform warned that an increase in payment delays would mean higher default risks for the suppliers and lenders affected. “This threatens a chain reaction, especially in strongly intertwined areas of the economy, up to and including increased bankruptcy filings.”
Creditreform had already warned in mid-June that Germany was threatened with “a wave of insolvencies of a previously unknown extent” if the economy does not recover quickly from the economic slump caused by the corona pandemic. According to experts, there could be an increase in company bankruptcies of up to 20 percent, it said at the time.
For some time now, there has been louder demand to suspend the obligation to file for insolvency beyond the end of September. Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) also spoke out at the weekend in favor of exempting overindebted companies from the obligation to file for bankruptcy for a longer period of time. “In order to give over-indebted companies caused by the pandemic to reorganize themselves through the economic activity that is picking up again in many industries or government offers of assistance, I will propose that these companies continue to suspend the obligation to file for insolvency until the end of March 2021”, she announced. DP / men