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Recognising reality at Deutsche Bank

“THE MOST fundamental transformation of Deutsche Bank in decades.” So Christian Sewing described his refashioning of the chronically unprofitable firm, announced on July 7th. Germany’s biggest lender is trimming its investment bank—and excising the trading of shares altogether. Mr Sewing, chief executive since April 2018, intends to cut costs by €5.8bn ($6.7bn) a year, a quarter of the total, by 2022. Eighteen thousand jobs, a fifth of the payroll, will go. Some equity traders were shown the door on July 8th.The restyling has taken five months to plan (during which time Deutsche also pondered and dismissed a merger with its Frankfurt neighbour, Commerzbank). It looks bold. Yet it is also a belated recognition of reality. For years after the financial crisis, Deutsche clung to the hope that it would again strut alongside Wall Street’s most glamorous names, as it had for a heady 20 years. Mr Sewing has binned the last threads of that ambition. The remodelled Deutsche—150 years old next year—will look a lot more like the sober servant of international companies it originally was.
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