Deutsche Bank

Not a Second Lehman Brothers

ARCHIV - Der damalige Co-Vorstandsvorsitzende und heutige Vorstandsvorsitzende der Deutschen Bank, John Cryan, steht während einer Pressekonferenz des Finanzinstituts am 29.10.2015 in Frankfurt am Main (Hessen) auf dem Podium. Foto: Boris Roessler/dpa (zu dpa: «Nur Aufräumer oder doch Visionär? Ein Jahr Deutsche-Bank-Chef Cryan» vom 30.06.2016) +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
Chief executive John Cryan has tried to reassure employees.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Deutsche Bank is struggling and has reported disappointing figures for the second quarter. But comparisons with Lehman Brothers ignore the German institution’s much greater liquidity, capital buffers and diversification.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Deutsche Bank shares are trading only slightly above their all-time low.
    • Deutsche Bank reported a record loss of €6.8 billion in the last fiscal year while net revenue slumped 20 percent to €7.39 billion.
    • CEO John Cryan has written to employees to dispel doubts over the bank’s financial strength.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Deutsche Bank isn’t doing well. This has been shown once again by disappointing figures for the second quarter. Germany’s mightiest bank is doing so badly that it’s high time to write something encouraging. For example, that the bank isn’t as dangerous as Lehman Brothers, the Wall Street bank whose collapse directly triggered the financial crisis.

The comparison may seem absurd, but for a while now pertinent U.S. financial blogs have been calculating what the catastrophic effects for the global financial system would be from acute financial distress at the Frankfurt institution. And in his latest letter to the 100,000 employees of Deutsche Bank, chief executive John Cryan endeavors to dispel all doubts about the bank’s financial strength.

Lehman failed because of a single, big bet on the U.S. real-estate market. Deutsche Bank, on the other hand, is so diversified it could not be shaken to its core by a shock on one or even several markets.

The predictors of an apocalypse at Deutsche Bank generally make two arguments to support their doom-and-gloom scenario: the enormous extent of derivatives on the bank’s balance sheets and its high credit leverage. And in fact, both operating figures are higher at Deutsche Bank than at its large U.S. competitor JP Morgan, for example.

But the differences from Lehman are greater than the similarities. Not only are the liquidity and capital buffers incommensurably larger at the Frankfurt institution. Lehman also failed because of a single, big bet on the U.S. real-estate market. Deutsche Bank, on the other hand, is so diversified that in spite of all its weaknesses it could not be shaken to its core by a shock on one or even several markets.

Even if progress in restructuring is slow in coming and it is still not clear whether the bank will manage on its own to meet the strict capital requirements of the regulators – the comparison with Lehman is a lame one.

To contact the author: maisch@handelsblatt.com.

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