The trail of influence that went Clintons > Department of Justice > Donald Trump > Deutsche Bank now stretches to include US Middle East policy > Saudi Arabia > Qatar > Rupert Murdoch.
If I read the signs coming out of the Trump camp correctly, US Justice Department boss Loretta Lynch will be walking a plank quite soon in order to spend more time on her hobby, deep sea fishing. The DoJ people as a whole weren’t exactly on John Cryan’s Christmas Card A-list, and as Trump banks with Deutsche, the CEO must now be hoping the suspended animation fine hanging over his brand will be sorted quickly.
But the truth is that Deutsche needs Trump far more than he needs them. Further, as I’ve written before, there is much more to this case than banking malpractice and stress tests. Already in the US, Barclays has shown how easy it is to pass: simply shift some capital in from somewhere else. There really wasn’t (and isn’t) any need for DB to pull back from its US operations and get out of other markets too: we’re talking – as if you didn’t know – geopolitics here.
While we were all being handed 24/7 propaganda from the pro-Clinton American press, spin from the FBI about emails – and lies from Deutsche itself – during US Election mania, the German bank run by an American has been making steady progress to change the emphasis of its business bases.
The bank that was on on the cliff-edge of bankruptcy saw its stock price leap by 20% after Trump’s victory last week. Nothing sinister in that: you’d have to be asleep not to see how DB should benefit from a Trump-purged Department of Justice. But by now (I’d imagine) the President-elect has been briefed on the game plan – a play strategy that involves Qatar, Deutsche’s own boss in the Middle East and the decision by Rupert Murdoch in the Spring to switch his allegiance from Hillary to Donald.
As the Wall Street Journal (a Murdoch title) stated yesterday, ‘[Deutsche’s] average level of [US] assets during the quarter was $248 billion, showing that its assets declined markedly even in the span of three months’. They did: by $100 billion, or roughly a third.
What’s more, having already made clear its intention to cut back on several major US sectors (and lost a key employee as a result of it) Deutsche has this morning revealed that it will pull out of its Polish brokerage business. There are sound reasons to do that – the Italian disaster area Unicredit is getting out too – but there are also US aims in that country whose chosen medium is banking; that is, ensuring that American Banks are the first (and only) line of credit as things worsen in the Polish economy.
I remain of the view that Deutsche Bank is being pointed firmly in the direction of the Middle East….where it too can further advance American interests – as well as working closely with newly-found Trump ally Murdoch. I’m also 85% sure that, given US support for Deutsche gets Angela Merkel out of her bailout hole, she will be more than happy to acquiesce in that arrangement.
This is what DB’s mideast CEO Jamal al Kishi (left) told the media just over a week ago:
“We see the merit in investing further here. We were involved in the sovereign bonds in Saudi and Qatar. We were joint lead manager on DP World’s $1.2bn sukuk and Pakistan’s $1bn sukuk this year and see more of this kind of business coming, in sovereign and corporate debt. We are recognised as having a leading trade finance, cash management and custody platform across the region.”
Al Kishi is a Saudi – close to the Special Relationship alliance in the region – and in turn a Murdoch confidante on the subject of the latter milking the Qatar soccer World Cup for all it’s worth.
Of course, Donald ‘no strings’ Trump may decide he isn’t keen on this strategy; I just can’t for the life of me see why he wouldn’t be. It is slowly beginning to dawn on millennials that Murdoch’s TV and press interests were probably a decisive factor in giving a confidence booster to the silent Trump voters……while at the same time raising more and more doubts about Clinton’s honesty in the minds of female voters. And as a $350 billion client of Deutsche, the Donald will see his position of influence as very strongly based. What he thinks about Saudi Arabia’s glaringly obvious role in bankrolling the very Islamists he claims to fear is not known.
Trying to sort out alliances, religious schisms, backers, tactics and motives in the Middle East is a mugs’ game unless one becomes a 24/7 anorak on the subject: and even then, the Anglo-Saxon outlook may well fail to grasp the male Arabian mindset. My suspicion is that Trump will look to trusted inner-circle advisers to keep an eye on this one, rather than be (except for treaty signatures) intimately involved in the process. His prime concern will be a thriving Israel, but among his intimates that’s a given anyway.
The quid pro quo here will be a much smaller fine in return for a US firewall around Deutsche Bank. It remains to be seen, on a more macro level, just how intelligent Donald Trump’s grasp of Middle Eastern affairs will be. In the meantime, I leave you with this unintentionally funny New York Times journalistic aspiration:
I make no apology for falling off my chair laughing when that strapline crossed my radar, as part of an attempt by the EnWhyteers to recruit me as a regular reader.
Yes folks, this is my world, this is my planet. The New York Times is on a mission to prove that my world is cubic, and that only the liberalLeft tendency knows how to make it whole and round again. For once we accept that Trump lost the popular vote (he didn’t, but unregistered aliens very nearly cost him the election), that Hillary was the victim of Glass Ceiling misogyny (she was the unlucky recipient of black abstention), that Trump was in the grip of Deutsche Bank (he could buy the bloody thing and barely notice), and that love always overcomes hate (except when the haters assume a hateful opponent) then we shall be, all of us, New York Timers….our perception of the world safely tamed to reflect how many fingers Winston can see.