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Deutsche Bank Collapse: The Most Important Bank In Europe Is Facing A Major ‘Liquidity Event’

toilet-paper-stock-market-collapse-public-domainThe largest and most important bank in the largest and most important economy in Europe is imploding right in front of our eyes.  Deutsche Bank is the 11th biggest bank on the entire planet, and due to the enormous exposure to derivatives that it has, it has been called “the world’s most dangerous bank“.  Over the past year, I have repeatedly warned that Deutsche Bank is heading for disaster and is a likely candidate to be “the next Lehman Brothers”.  If you would like to review, you can do so here, here and here.  On September 16th, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Department of Justice wanted 14 billion dollars from Deutsche Bank to settle a case related to the mis-handling of mortgage-backed securities during the last financial crisis.  As a result of that announcement, confidence in the bank has been greatly shaken, the stock price has fallen to record lows, and analysts are warning that Deutsche Bank may be facing a “liquidity event” unlike anything that we have seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers back in 2008.

At one point on Friday, Deutsche Bank stock fell below the 10 euro mark for the first time ever before bouncing back a bit.  A completely unverified rumor that was spreading on Twitter that claimed that Deutsche Bank would settle with the Department of Justice for only 5.4 billion dollars was the reason for the bounce.

But the size of the fine is not really the issue now.  Shares of Deutsche Bank have fallen by more than half so far in 2016, and this latest episode seems to have been the final straw for the deeply troubled financial institution.  Old sources of liquidity are being cut off, and nobody wants to be the idiot that offers Deutsche Bank a new source of liquidity at this point.

As a result, Deutsche Bank is potentially facing a “liquidity event” on a scale that we have not seen since the financial crisis of 2008.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

It is not solvency, or the lack of capital – a vague, synthetic, and usually quite arbitrary concept, determined by regulators – that kills a bank; it is – as Dick Fuld will tell anyone who bothers to listen – the loss of (access to) liquidity: cold, hard, fungible (something Jon Corzine knew all too well when he commingled and was caught) cash, that pushes a bank into its grave, usually quite rapidly: recall that it took Lehman just a few days for its stock to plunge from the high double digits to zero.

It is also liquidity, or rather concerns about it, that sent Deutsche Bank stock crashing to new all time lows earlier today: after all, the investing world already knew for nearly two weeks that its capitalization is insufficient. As we reported earlier this week, it was a report by Citigroup, among many other, that found how badly undercapitalized the German lender is, noting that DB’s “leverage ratio, at 3.4%, looks even worse relative to the 4.5% company target by 2018” and calculated that while he only models €2.9bn in litigation charges over 2H16-2017 – far less than the $14 billion settlement figure proposed by the DOJ – and includes a successful disposal of a 70% stake in Postbank at end-2017 for 0.4x book he still only reaches a CET 1 ratio of 11.6% by end-2018, meaning the bank would have a Tier 1 capital €3bn shortfall to the company target of 12.5%, and a leverage ratio of 3.9%, resulting in an €8bn shortfall to the target of 4.5%.

The more the stock price drops, the faster other financial institutions, investors and regular banking clients are going to want to pull their money out of Deutsche Bank.  And every time there is news about people pulling money out of the bank, that is just going to drive the stock price even lower.

In other words, Deutsche Bank may be entering a death spiral that may be impossible to stop without a government bailout, and the German government has already stated that there will be no bailout for Deutsche Bank.

Banking customers have a total of approximately 566 billion euros deposited with the bank, and even if a small fraction of those clients start demanding their money back it is going to cause a major, major crunch.

Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan attempted to calm nerves on Friday by releasing a memo to employees that blamed “speculators” for the decline in the stock price

Instead of doing what many have correctly suggested he should be doing, namely focusing on ways to raise more capital for the undercapitalized Deutsche Bank in order to stem the slow (at first) liquidity leak, first thing this morning CEO John Cryan issued another morale-boosting note to employees of Deustche Bank who have been watching their stock price crash to another record low, dipping under €10 in early trading for the first time ever. In the memo the embattled CEO worryingly did what Dick Fuld and other chief executives did when they felt the situation slipping out of control, namely blaming evil “rumor-spreading” shorts, saying “our bank has become subject to speculation. Ongoing rumours are causing significant swings in our stock price. … Trust is the foundation of banking. Some forces in the markets are currently trying to damage this trust.

Just as important, Cryan confirms the Bloomberg report that “a few of our hedge fund clients have reduced some activities with us. That is causing unjustified concerns.” As we explained last night, the concerns are very much justified if they spread to the biggest risk-factor for the German bank: its depositors, which collectively hold over €550 billion in liquidity-providing instruments.

If you would like to ready the full memo, you can do so right here.

One of the reasons why Deutsche Bank is considered to be so systemically “dangerous” is because it has 42 trillion euros worth of exposure to derivatives.  That is an amount of money that is 14 times larger than the GDP of the entire nation of Germany.

Some firms that were derivatives clients of the bank have already gotten spooked and have moved their business to other institutions.  It was this report from Bloomberg that really helped drive down the stock price of Deutsche Bank earlier this week…

The funds, a small subset of the more than 800 clients in the bank’s hedge fund business, have shifted part of their listed derivatives holdings to other firms this week, according to an internal bank document seen by Bloomberg News. Among them are Izzy Englander’s $34 billion Millennium Partners, Chris Rokos’s $4 billion Rokos Capital Management, and the $14 billion Capula Investment Management, said a person with knowledge of the situation who declined to be identified talking about confidential client matters.

“The issue here is now one of confidence,” said Chris Wheeler, a financial analyst with Atlantic Equities LLP in London.

So what comes next?

Monday is a banking holiday for Germany, so we may not see anything major happen until Tuesday.

An announcement of a major reduction in the Department of Justice fine may buy Deutsche Bank some time, but any reprieve would likely only be temporary.

What appears to be more likely is the scenario that Jeffrey Gundlach is suggesting

But Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive of DoubleLine Capital, said investors betting that Berlin would not rescue Deutsche could find themselves nursing big losses.

The market is going to push down Deutsche Bank until there is some recognition of support. They will get assistance, if need be,’ said Gundlach, who oversees more than $100 billion at Los Angeles-based DoubleLine.

It will be very interesting to see how desperate things become before the German government finally gives in to the pressure.

The complete and total collapse of Deutsche Bank would be an event many times more significant for the global financial system than the collapse of Lehman Brothers was.  Global leaders simply cannot afford for such a thing to happen, but without serious intervention it appears that is precisely where we are heading.

Personally, I don’t know exactly what will happen next, but it will be fascinating to watch.

There Are Indications That A Major Financial Event In Germany Could Be Imminent

Germany Euro Map - Public Domain
Is something about to happen in Germany that will shake the entire world?  According to disturbing new intel that I have received, a major financial event in Germany could be imminent.  Now when I say imminent, I do not mean to suggest that it will happen tomorrow.  But I do believe that we have entered a season of time when another “Lehman Brothers moment” may occur.  Most observers tend to regard Germany as the strong hub that is holding the rest of Europe together economically, but the truth is that serious trouble is brewing under the surface.  As I write this, the German DAX stock index is down close to 20 percent from the all-time high that was set back in April, and there are lots of signs of turmoil at Germany’s largest bank.  There are very few banks in the world that are more prestigious or more influential than Deutsche Bank, and it has been making headlines for all of the wrong reasons recently.

Just like we saw with Lehman Brothers, banks that are “too big to fail” don’t suddenly collapse overnight.  The truth is that there are always warning signs in advance if you look closely enough.

In early 2014, shares of Deutsche Bank were trading above 50 dollars a share.  Since that time, they have fallen by more than 40 percent, and they are now trading below 29 dollars a share.

It is common knowledge that the corporate culture at Deutsche Bank is deeply corrupt, and the bank has been exceedingly reckless in recent years.

If you are exceedingly reckless and you win all the time, that is okay.  Unfortunately for Deutsche Bank, they have increasingly been on the losing end of things.

Prior to the “sudden collapse” of Lehman Brothers on September 15th, 2008, there had been media reports of mass layoffs at the firm.  To give you just a couple of examples, CNBC reported on this on March 10th, 2008 and the New York Times reported on this on August 28th, 2008.

When big banks start getting into serious trouble, this is what they do.  They start getting rid of staff.  That is why the massive job cuts that Deutsche Bank just announced are so troubling

Deutsche Bank aims to cut roughly 23,000 jobs, or about one quarter of total staff, through layoffs mainly in technology activities and by spinning off its PostBank division, financial sources said on Monday.

That would bring the group’s workforce down to around 75,000 full-time positions under a reorganization being finalised by new Chief Executive John Cryan, who took control of Germany’s biggest bank in July with the promise to cut costs.

Cryan presented preliminary details of the plan to members of the supervisory board at the weekend. A spokesman for the bank declined comment.

Deutsche Bank has also been facing mounting legal troubles.  The following is a brief excerpt from a recent Zero Hedge article

The bank, which has paid out more than $9 billion over the past three years alone to settle legacy litigation, has become something of a poster child for corrupt corporate culture.

In April, Deutsche settled rate rigging charges with the DoJ for $2.5 billion (or about $25,474 per employee) and subsequently paid $55 million to the SEC (an agency that’s been run by former Deutsche Bank employees and their close associates for years) in connection with allegations it deliberately mismarked its crisis-era LSS book to the tune of at least $5 billion.

But it was out of the frying pan and into the fire so to speak, because early last month, the DoJ announced it would seek to extract a fresh round of MBS-related settlements from banks that knowingly packaged and sold shoddy CDOs in the lead up to the crisis. JP Morgan, Bank of America, and Citi settled MBS probes when the DoJ was operating under the incomparable (and we mean that in a derisive way) Eric Holder but now, emboldened by her pyrrhic victory over Wall Street’s FX manipulators, new Attorney General Loretta Lynch is set to go after Barclays PLC, Credit Suisse Group AG, Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings PLC, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC,UBS AG and Wells Fargo & Co.

Of course the legal troubles are just the tip of the iceberg of what has been going on over at Deutsche Bank over the past couple of years.  The following is a pretty good timeline of some of the major events that have hit Deutsche Bank since the beginning of last year.  It comes from a NotQuant article that was published back in June entitled “Is Deutsche Bank the next Lehman?“…

  • In April of 2014,  Deutsche Bank was forced to raise an additional 1.5 Billion of Tier 1 capital to support its capital structure.  Why?
  • 1 month later in May of 2014, the scramble for liquidity continued as DB announced the selling of 8 billion euros worth of stock – at up to a 30% discount.   Why again?  It was a move which raised eyebrows across the financial media.  The calm outward image of Deutsche Bank did not seem to reflect their rushed efforts to raise liquidity.  Something was decidedly rotten behind the curtain.
  • Fast forwarding to March of this year:   Deutsche Bank fails the banking industry’s “stress tests” and is given a stern warning to shore up it’s capital structure.
  • In April,  Deutsche Bank confirms its agreement to a joint settlement with the US and UK regarding the manipulation of LIBOR.   The bank is saddled with a massive $2.1 billion payment to the DOJ.  (Still, a small fraction of their winnings from the crime). 
  • In May,  one of Deutsche Bank’s CEOs, Anshu Jain is given an enormous amount of new authority by the board of directors.  We guess that this is a “crisis move”.  In times of crisis the power of the executive is often increased.
  • June 5:  Greece misses its payment to the IMF.   The risk of default across all of its debt is now considered acute.   This has massive implications for Deutsche Bank.
  • June 6/7:  (A Saturday/Sunday, and immediately following Greece’s missed payment to the IMF) Deutsche Bank’s two CEO’s announce their surprise departure from the company.  (Just one month after Jain is given his new expanded powers).   Anshu Jain will step down first at the end of June.  Jürgen Fitschen will step down next May.
  • June 9: S&P lowers the rating of Deutsche Bank to BBB+  Just three notches above “junk”.  (Incidentally,  BBB+ is even lower than Lehman’s downgrade – which preceded its collapse by just 3 months)

Are you starting to get the picture?  These are not signs of a healthy bank.

What makes things even worse is how recklessly Deutsche Bank has been behaving.  At one point, it was estimated that Deutsche Bank had a staggering 75 trillion dollars worth of exposure to derivatives.  Keep in mind that German GDP for an entire year is only about 4 trillion dollars.  So when Deutsche Bank finally collapses, there won’t be enough money in Europe (or anywhere else for that matter) to clean up the mess.  This is a perfect example of why I am constantly hammering on the danger of these “weapons of financial mass destruction”.

If Deutsche Bank were to totally collapse, it would be a financial disaster far worse than Lehman Brothers.  It would literally take down the entire European financial system and cause global financial panic on a scale that none of us have ever seen before.

On a personal note, I apologize for not posting anything last week.  I traveled to two very important conferences and was living out of a suitcase for about eight days.

There has been a bit of a lull in the action over the past couple of weeks, but I expect that to end very shortly.  I believe that the rest of 2015 is going to be incredibly chaotic, and we are going to see some things happen that most people could not even conceive of right now.

In the days that are directly ahead, I encourage people to keep a close eye on both Germany and Japan.

Big things are about to happen, and millions are about to be totally shaken out of their complacency.

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