Ackermann: Crisis Nearing End

When a CEO talks about the “beginning of the end,” it isn’t usually a good thing. But in an interview Friday with the Financial Times, Deutsche Bank (DB) CEO Josef Ackermann said that the credit crisis that has rocked global markets for roughly one year so far was likely nearing its end, as regulators and banks have taken action to address market shifts. “We are seeing the beginning of the end of the crisis,” he told the Financial Times, but he also added that things would likely remain comparatively rough in the US as a slowing economy and rising inflation complicate things. Read the interview. His remarks are perhaps the first in the current earnings season to suggest that the worst of the mortgage and broader financial crisis is behind the financial sector, even as mortgage delinquencies continue to climb and home prices in the States continue to fall; such pronouncements were also made by Ackermann’s counterparts during first quarter earnings. Ackermann’s relative optimism contrasts with the more pessimistic (realistic?) outlook given by JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon in discussing Thursday’s earnings. Dimon said that the credit mess was spreading into prime mortgages and that the economic picture was likely to get weaker throughout the balance of 2008. Regulators and policymakers are weighing a government-led rescue of housing finance giants Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE), with the U.S. Treasury asking for authority to make direct equity investments into both companies. The outcome of such an effort remains unknown, as Republicans raise concerns to the proposed plan. Disclosure: The author was long FRE, and held no direct positions in FNM, DB or JPM when this story was written; indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.

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