WELL, it might have been worse. Early on December 23rd Deutsche Bank announced that it had reached a settlement “in principle” with America’s Department of Justice (DoJ), over claims that it had mis-sold residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBSs) in 2005-07, in the run-up to the financial crisis. Deutsche says the agreement is worth $7.2bn—a far cry from the $14bn that the DoJ demanded in September, sending Deutsche’s share price reeling. Credit Suisse said that it too had struck a deal, worth $5.3bn. However, the DoJ is suing Barclays, with which it had also been negotiating, and two of its bankers. Barclays says it will fight the complaint.

Deutsche, Germany’s biggest bank, has always insisted that it would not pay anything like as much as the DoJ had asked for. Although $7.2bn is more than analysts had expected, investors will probably see the deal as good news: Deutsche will fork out only—“only”—$3.1bn in cash and pay the rest as “consumer relief”, such as changes to borrowers’ loans, which will be spread over five years. On the morning of the announcement the bank’s shares were trading 3-4% up.

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