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The 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.