Deutsche Bank has been stepping up its proprietary trading and increasing its investments in hedge funds in recent years. While this is aimed at boosting profits, it makes Deutsche Bank an inherently riskier investment. Good investments can bring in a ton of money, but a few bets in the wrong direction or a particularly bearish market can lead to lower returns, or even losses.
Though it has seemed to weather the subprime fallout better than some competitors, Deutsche Bank still has over $40 billion in leveraged loan commitments on its books. Depending on how the debt markets fare in 2008, these assets could face additional, massive write-downs.
A negative public image in Germany could hurt Deutsche Bank's ability to cut costs and improve profits. Already, German politicians tried to organize a boycott of the firm in 2005 over its plans to cut additional jobs. This is an example of the country's negative attitude toward the aggressive pursuit of profits, which is limiting Deutsche Bank and other private-sector firms in their ability to fully maximize profitability.