2017 was a pretty strange year overall, and that held true for the financial services industry. As results have trickled in over the last few weeks, banks have reported that a robust year of market growth has been offset an the industry-wide reckoning with FICC.
Taking those two opposing forces into account - plus factoring in a tax-free 2018 - and it's hard to say that any major bank has truly disappointed with its 2017 results...well, almost any:
Deutsche Bank is still recovering after being hit with billions in fines back in 2015, its chief executive officer John Cryan told CNBC, after the bank posted another year of losses on Friday morning.
The German lender reported a net loss of 2.2 billion euros ($2.75 billion) in the fourth quarter of 2017 — worse than the net loss of 1.25 billion euros that Reuters analysts had forecast.
For the year, the German bank posted a 497 million euro loss ($621 million), compared to a 290 million euro loss that Reuters analysts had estimated. This was the third consecutive annual loss for Deutsche Bank. The bank's results were impacted by a drop in investment banking as well as tax changes in the U.S.
Oh, Johnny Cryin, will he ever be happy again? It has come to feel as if the PTSD from 2015 has etched itself into Cryan's soul. And the billions in fines that Deutsche was paying out are only made to feel raw and new when your bank has to write a check for 1.4 billion euros to the FICC. And we won't even go into what these results mean for the traders that dumb Deutsche executives promised would be looking at fat bonus checks in 2018 after getting stiffed last year so the bank could pay the US DoJ for shit that happened before almost anyone getting stiffed even worked at Deutsche.
Cryan has said that he doesn't intend to "make people miserable again" like he did last year, but we're also seeing that Deutsche is only looking at putting about 400 million more euros into compensation costs than it did last year. Spreading out 400 million over the entire bonus pool is - as the Germans say - weaksauce.
But let's get back to Cryan and misery, because he also said something to CNBC that makes us wonder if he now sees joy through a purely academic prism...
"We are coming out (of crisis) and were it not for the U.S. tax reform whatever it was 11, 10, 11 days before the end of the year, then we would have been reporting at least a positive result at the bottom line, which psychologically always feels better than a negative result," Cryan said Friday.
Yes, John, that is what feeling better would feel like. We wish you could remember it.