Since the subprime mortgage crisis melted the world economy, Germany became familiar with the financial investments made in America by Deutsche Bank.
Documentaries would air on evening television featuring German news anchors driving around parts of dilapidated neighborhoods in Florida, pointing to vacant home after vacant home and declaring "owned by Deutsche Bank," sources repeatedly told HousingWire.
Things appear to be turning around as DB began to add staff in Florida in order to feed growing demand for its financial services. Besides, Deutsche Bank is hardly alone in the once-common charge of big banks allowing foreclosures to languish.
But now those bad mortgage bets from year's past are said to be taking a final, devastating toll on the mighty German bank, according to news reports in Europe.
Or is it?
According to the BBC, Germany is preparing a bail-out of Deutsche Bank "in case it cannot pay fines in the US."
The big one is the $14 billion fine from the U.S. Department of Justice, not for property investments, but for mortgage-backed securities issued during the subprime boom.
The BBC report cites a German newspaper chronicle of the bank's alleged, recent struggles:
Die Zeit wrote that "despite earlier denials", the rescue plans were being prepared and would come into force if the bank needed additional capital to pay the fine and could not raise the money from the markets.
However, the German government is denying the plan exists, according to several media outlets, this time from Reuters:
"This report is wrong. The German government is not preparing any rescue plan, there is no reason to speculate on such plans," the finance ministry said in a statement.
Reading deeper into that Reuters report, one can see the prudence in the Die Zeit claim. An analysts at Goldman Sachs estimates such fines could end up costing Deutsche Bank $5 billion.
If so, a capital raise may be in order, still a far cry from a government rescue. But should investors not be interested in purchasing additional stake in Deutsche Bank? Die Zeit claims the government would need to step in and take as much as a 25% stake, similar to its bailout of fellow German rescue entity, Commerzbank.