Euro area interest rates on bank loans
24 March 2016
The average euro area interest rate on new loans to households for house purchase was 2.27% in January 2016 – close to the 2.20% record low observed in May 2015 and less than half the 5.51% record high of October 2008. Interest rate levels have steadily decreased since the end of 2011 when rates were close to 4%, accompanying the decrease in the ECB main refinancing operations rate. At the same time, monthly volumes of new loans for house purchase have been increasing since the beginning of 2012. In 2015 the monthly average volume of new housing loans was €68.5 billion, the second highest peak of the decade, representing an increase of about 45% compared with the averages for the previous five years. In January 2016 new volumes fell by 15% compared with the 2015 average, a phenomenon that has been consistently observed at the beginning of each calendar year since the launch of these statistics in 2003.
Interest rates on new bank loans to corporations have followed a broadly similar path to new loans to households for house purchase, reaching the low level of 1.82% in January 2016. Interest rates on corporate loans, like those on new household loans, have steadily decreased following a local peak of 3.48% in December 2011.
Monthly volumes of new bank loans to corporations had increased since recording in January 2003, peaking in July 2008, with a volume of €422 billion, just before the start of the European financial crisis. In 2015, the monthly average volume of these loans was €216 billion, similar to the averages for the previous four years.
Bank interest rates are key to assessing the impact of monetary policy on the economy. They provide valuable information for analysing and assessing the transmission mechanism of monetary policy and the extent and speed of the pass-through of official interest rates, via market rates, to the lending and deposit rates offered to households and corporations. This is important as changes in interest rates affect the cost of capital, influencing investment and saving decisions.
Statistics on bank interest rates provide an opportunity to track both interest rate developments and associated business volumes. Combining the interest rate levels and business volumes of lending and borrowing activities provides insights into the developments of the banking and financial system and is thus key to analysing financial structures and integration in the euro area.
Bank interest rate statistics refer to interest rates individually contracted between banks and their customers on loan and deposit agreements. For loans, they reflect the amount charged by a bank to a borrower and can differ depending on various factors, such as the amount and duration of the loan, the guarantees provided, the creditworthiness and sector of the borrower, the purpose of the loan and levels of competition in the retail banking sector. The above-mentioned factors may explain interest rate differences among banks and countries. Bank interest rate statistics are calculated on new business and outstanding amounts and are normally expressed as a percentage of the principal for a period of one year.
Bank interest rate statistics adhere to the same concepts, methodology and calculation methods across all 19 euro area countries and are therefore highly comparable.
The harmonised euro area statistics on bank interest rates were launched in January 2003, covering loans and deposits to households and corporations resident in the euro area.
Find out more about euro area and national breakdowns of bank interest rate statistics on the ECB’s website: