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商业 - 金融

德意志银行如何误入歧途

Shawn Tully 2015年06月15日

2007年以来,德意志银行的股价已经由每股150美元降至每股33美元,市值缩水了1000亿美元。投资银行业务表现不佳,而且人们日益怀疑业绩短时间内不会改善,这使得德意志银行当前的战略遭到了严重质疑。

    与大多数同行相比,德意志银行过于依赖投资银行业务。近年来,该银行进一步加大了对该业务的投入。德意志银行跻身投资银行业第一梯队,可追溯到1990年,当时该银行收购了英国的摩根建富,8年后,又收购了美国的信孚银行。此后,德意志银行蓬勃发展,步入顶级投行的行列,与高盛和摩根士丹利比肩,这背后的大功臣是阿克曼以及后来的贾因。

    德意志银行最大的优势在于其固定收益部门,尤其是交易业务。在其最辉煌的时期,德意志银行的债券业务净资产收益率高达40%。即便在金融危机过后的2009年,德意志的交易业务仍大获成功。投资者不顾一切地低价抛售证券,该银行因此获得了巨大的“价差”或者说利润空间。同时,德意志银行的许多主要竞争对手都缩减债券交易,甚至彻底关停固定收益部门。因此,2009年德意志银行逆势而动,赚得盆满钵满,并保留了其标志性的固定收益业务。

    贾因和菲辰决定依靠其盈利的主力——债券交易。这是一个双管齐下的计划。首先,他们认为,瑞银和瑞士信贷等巨头缩减业务规模,将使德意志银行占据更有利的市场地位,因为竞争减少将使其市场份额和交易利润空间双双提升。他们还认为,超紧的资本管制将逐步放松,这样一来,银行无需大幅增加准备金就能再度扩大交易规模。

    但上述两项预测都落了空。

    更糟糕的是,金融危机前的市场红火状况在2009年短暂再现后就一去不复返。过去5年里,固定收益市场一直相对平静。新规迫使银行大幅缩减待售债券的库存。在当前的价格水平下,大多数客户并不急于出售自己手头的债券、买入新债券,因此成交量偏低。贝克尔表示:“他们一直在等待自己预测的趋势出现,但一直没等到。”

    德意志银行董事会自顶层宣布变革,并强调将继续坚持投资银行业务优先的战略。该行的零售业务颇具规模,其分支机构的存款总额约2200亿美元。但德意志银行承诺出售Postbank以缩减零售业务的规模。Postbank在德国各地的邮局提供银行业务,德意志银行的半数存款来自Postbank。

    如果运营得当,零售银行业务前景看好,因为存款为银行提供了海量几乎零成本的资金。贷款和证券价格必然上涨,这样一来,低成本的存款将为银行带来极大利润空间。

    债券交易的未来则有些难以预料。如今,电子平台直接撮合富达和先锋等主要债券持有者,绕过银行并降低交易成本。股票市场的现代化革命已经使得股票交易的利润大大下降,如今,债券市场可能面临一场类似的革命。

    危机过后,各类业务通常会恢复常态。但也可能有例外,尤其是过时的由银行主导的债券业务。世界已经发生了变化。它是否会再变回去?这是个问题。对德意志银行而言,把宝押在指望过去的好日子重现恐怕要竹篮打水一场空。(财富中文网)

    译者:Hunter

    审校: 夏林

    Deutsche Bank relies far more heavily on investment banking than most of its peers. In recent years, it has placed even greater weight on that franchise. Deutsche Bank’s remarkable rise to the summit in investment banking began in 1990, when it purchased Britain’s Morgan Grenfell, followed by the acquisition of Bankers Trust eight years later. Thereafter, the investment bank thrived––Ackerman, followed by Jain, were principal architects of its success––rising to the top echelon alongside Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

    Deutsche Bank’s greatest strength is its fixed income arm, especially, trading. In its best years, the bank was generating fantastic 40% ROEs in its bond business. Even in 2009, in the wake of the financial crisis, it enjoyed great success in trading. Investors were desperate to exit securities at any price, providing huge “spreads,” or margins, for the bank. At the same time, many of Deutsche Bank’s biggest competitors were reducing their bond trading or closing their fixed income desks altogether. So in 2009, Deutsche Bank profited handsomely by bucking the trend, and it maintained its signature franchise.

    Jain-Fitschen decided to rely on their bastion of profitability, bond trading. Their plan was twofold. First, they believed that the retrenchment of many big players, including UBS and Credit Suisse, would put their bank in a far more powerful position. The idea was that the reduced competition would both raise both their market share and trading margins. They also figured that the ultra-tight capital restrictions would gradually loosen, so that banks could once again expand their trading books without huge increases in reserves.

    Neither of those predictions worked out as planned.

    To make matters worse, the flush, pre-financial crisis time, reprised in 2009, didn’t return. For the past half-decade, fixed income markets have been relatively placid. New regulations have forced the banks to substantially shrink the size of their inventories of bonds for sale. Most customers are in no hurry to sell their bonds and buy new ones at today’s rates, so turnover is low. “They keep waiting for the trends they predicted to happen, and they haven’t happened,” says Becker.

    In announcing the changes at the top, the Deutsche Bank board stressed that it’s adhering to the investment banking-first strategy. The bank does have a substantial retail business, boasting around $220 billion in deposits at its branches. But it pledges to shrink that franchise by selling Postbank, which offers banking services in post offices throughout Germany and accounts for half of Deutsche Bank’s deposits.

    If it’s well run, retail banking has a strong future because deposits provide big pools of money that’s pretty much interest-free. As rates on loans and securities inevitably rise, those cheap deposits become highly profitable.

    The future isn’t nearly as predictable for bond trading. Electronic platforms are now matching big owners, the Fidelities and Vanguards, directly with one another, bypassing the banks and lowering costs in the process. We may be on the brink of a sister revolution to the one that modernized the equity markets and ominously squeezed most of the profit out of stock trading.

    It’s usually safe to bet that, after a crisis, businesses can return to a state of normalcy. But it’s not always so, especially not in the outdated, bank-dominated bond business. The world has changed. The question is whether it will change back. For Deutsche Bank, planning on a reprise of the good old days may be a losing wager.

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