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Friday, September 30, 2016

This Is How Much Liquidity Deutsche Bank Has At This Moment, And What Happens Next

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%.
When Citi's note exposing DB's undercapitalization came out, it had precisely zero impact on the price of DB stock. Why? Because as we said above, capitalization - and solvency - tends to be a largely worthless, pro-forma concept. However, when Bloomberg reported today that select funds have withdrawn “some excess cash and positions held at the lender” the stock immediately plunged: the reason is that this had everything to do with not only DB's suddenly crashing liquidity, but the pernicious feedback loop, where once a source of liquidity leaves, the departure tends to spook other such sources, leading to an outward bound liquidity cascade. Again: just ask Lehman (and AIG) for the details.
Which then brings us to the $64 trillion (roughly the same amount as DB's gross notional derivative exposure) question: since DB is suddenly experiencing a sharp "liquidity event", how much liquidity does Deutsche Bank have access to as of this momentto offset this event? The answer would allow us to calculate how long DB may have in a worst case scenario if we knew the rate of liquidity outflow.
For the answer, we go to a just released note by Goldman Sachs, which admits that it is now facing "crisis" questions from clients, among which “can a large European bank face a liquidity event” to wit"
Deutsche Bank stands at the center of the European financial system - it is a major counterpart of all relevant European banks, and broader. Recent reports of potential litigation hits have compounded capital concerns, and raised the overall level of market anxiety. “Crisis” questions are being asked: “is there risk of a financial crisis re-run” and “can a large European bank face a liquidity event”?
So what is the answer: how much liquidity does Deutsche Bank have access to? The answer is two fold, with the first part focusing on central bank, in this case ECB, backstops in both $ and €. 
Goldman starts with an overview of said back-stops, summarized below. These facilities are available to all Eurozone banks (and, naturally, also to Deutsche Bank) – they are generous in terms of volume (full allotment), price (fixed rate at 0%) and tenure (from short term, all the way to 4-years). These ECB facilities are key to ensuring the bank's long-term funding stability, in Goldman's view, and were put in place following the funding market fallout in 2007, in order to contain the effects from the Lehman crisis. They were further bolstered to contain the Eurozone sovereign crisis in 2011-12. All of the liquidity provisions remain in place, and broadly, they fall into the following two categories:
  1. Regular market operations: 1-week Main Refinancing Operations or “MRO” (priced @0%), and 3-month Long Term Refinancing Operations or “LTRO” (@0%);
  2. Non-standard measures, which split between € funding facilities with 4-year Targeted LTROs (@0%, with the option to fall to -0.4% if lending targets are met) and the emergency liquidity assistance to solvent financial institutions and a US$ funding facility: 1-week US$ MRO (@0.86%).

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