Deutsche Bank, one of the largest banks in Europe and indeed the world, is in big trouble. The bank is on the hook for a $14 billion dollar fine in the United States stemming from the 2008 financial crisis. Problem is, the bank might not have the money needed to pay the fine. Deutsche Bank has been struggling over the past few years with bad assets on its books and other problems.
The fine handed down by the U.S. justice department is record breaking. Deutsche Bank only has only about a third of the amount set aside. Numerous questions had been circulating about the health and liquidity of the bank even before the lawsuit. The combination of the 2008 financial crisis, as well as the turbulence in European financial markets over the past few years, among other things, is hurting DB.
Towards the end of the week, reports began circulating that DB had reached a settlement of “only” $5.4 billion. If true, this would be a substantial sum, but DB could likely survive the blow. Markets rebounded on the news.
Regardless, analysts from Credit Suisse are also warning that DB may be dangerously under-capitalized. Allegedly, Deutsche Bank’s Common Equity Tier 1 ratio is below the minimum requirement of 12.25%, suggesting that it may not have enough equity on hand in the event of turbulence.
Deutsche Bank Closely Intertwined With Global Economy
Many financial analysts and economists are worried over how deeply Deutsche Bank is intertwined with the global economy. Earlier this year, the International Monetary Fund went as far as to label the bank as the biggest systemic risk to the global financial system. This was well before the fine was leveed against the company.
As a global giant, Deutsche Bank has operations in countless countries across Europe and the world. Meanwhile, the bank has developed financial relationships, such as loans and investments, with numerous other financial institutions. There is a fear among some that if DB were to collapse, it would act like a domino, causing other banks to collapse.
Deutsche Bank has major relationships with Bank of American, Morgan Stanley, Bank of China, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, and many others. Right now, most of these banks appear to be in decent health. China, however, has been suffering economic and financial turbulence. Meanwhile, British banks, such as RBS, are struggling with the Brexit fallout.
Rescue Plan In The Works?
Rumors are circulating that the German government is already working on a bailout package for Deutsche Bank. According to the the rumored current plans, the German government will bail out Deutsche Bank, but will demand a 25% stake in the company. So far, both the German government and Deutsche Bank officials have denied the claim. If the settlement does come to fruition, the rescue might not even be needed.
Of course, neither party would admit to any rescue plans until forced to do so. Up until now the German government has quite publicly said that it would not bail out Deutsche Bank. Doing so would create a moral hazard and might embolden other financial institutions to make risky bets. Further, the German government is already struggling to keep its finances under control, so a multi-billion dollar loan or buyout isn’t going to be appealing.