In October 2008, as the last global financial crisis raged, Deutsche Bank’s CEO Josef Ackermann boasted to German reporters that his bank did not need and would not accept a government bailout, a claim that’s been often repeated in the financial press.
But how do you define “bailout” and “taking state money”? If, for example, one narrowly construes a bailout to be a direct equity infusion from government coffers, then Ackermann is correct – Deutsche Bank, unlike its smaller rival Commerzbank, did not receive an equity infusion from the German government. Nor did it receive funds directly from the US Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP.)
But that doesn’t mean it didn’t accept government rescue money during the financial crisis. Consider the following:
- As one of the largest counterparties of failed insurer AIG, Deutsche Bank received $11.8 billion of the funds used to bail out AIG. 
- The Federal Reserve made emergency low-cost funds widely available to foreign as well as US member institutions through its discount window. Deutsche Bank was the second heaviest user of such funds, borrowing more than $2 billion. 
- The Federal Reserve also created a program known as the Term Asset-Backed Securities Lending Facility, which allowed banks to use their assets, including troubled or hard-to-value assets, as collateral for short term loans. Deutsche Bank was the largest user of the program, sending the Fed more than $290 billion worth of mortgage securities.
To most people, who don’t make fine distinctions among the particular government programs that funneled their tax dollars to financial institutions, this probably looks an awful lot like a bailout.
 Deutsche Welle, 10/20/2008.
 “German and French banks got $36 billion from AIG bailout,” Business Week, 3/15/09.
 “Foreign Banks tapped Fed’s Secret Lifeline Most at Crisis Peak,” Bloomberg, 4/1/11.
 “Fed Opens Books, Revealing Foreign Megabanks Were Biggest Beneficiaries,” Huffington Post, 1/31/11.