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Business

Germans Pay More Than They Borrow

German households for the first time paid back more money than they borrowed last year, as demand for credit declined, the Bundesbank said. Households paid back 600 million euros ($733 million) last year, after borrowing increased by 16.6 billion euros in 2003, the Bundesbank said in its June monthly report, published on its Web site today. "Consumer borrowing and commercial credit were decisive for this extraordinary development,'' the Bundesbank said. Household spending in Germany, Europe's largest economy, hasn't grown in three years amid 11 percent unemployment and rising oil costs. Bundesbank President Axel Weber said last week private consumption, equivalent to more than half of the economy, "remains a problem child."

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