No US Government bailout for SVB: Yellen
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen put an end to speculation that the US Government was going to bail out failed banking outfit SVB Financial Group (NASDAQ:SIVB) – better known by its operating moniker of Silicon Valley Bank – after a loss of depositor confidence led to a run-on-the-bank late last week.
Yellen, in a live interview on the popular CBS Sunday show Face the Nation (see video below), and in response to a question about the possibility of Government intervention stated emphatically:
“Well let me be clear that during the financial crisis [of 2008], there were investors and owners of systemic large banks that were bailed out… and the reforms that have been put in place means that we’re not going to do that again.”
Secretary Yellen did go on to say that the Government was indeed very involved with the situation but that their main concern was “about depositors and [we] are focused on trying to meet their needs.”
US financial regulators shuttered SVB on Friday and seized all the bank’s deposits, after a mammoth $42 billion in deposits was withdrawn by SVB customers in the preceding 24 hours. SVB’s collapse happened very fast, starting late Wednesday when the company surprised the financial community by stating that it needed to raise $2.25 billion in new capital after taking a near $2 billion loss on bonds held on its balance sheet.
SVB was mainly a business bank, serving (mainly) the technology industry in northern California and around the world. The company grew by making loans to tech companies alongside equity injections put in by venture capital firms, branching out to provide a full suite of banking services to companies and individuals. Many tech companies used SVB as their main bank, and the concern in the tech world is that many VC-backed companies who did business with SVB are going to have (at best) near term issues with their cash flows, everything from making payroll to paying suppliers.
The greater concern is that what happened to SVB might ripple out into the banking (and financial sector) generally. In a similar analogy to the 2008 financial crisis, Bear Stearns became the first investment bank to collapse as it had the highest concentration of business in the area which was problematic (mortgage-backed bonds), but eventually larger, more diversified firms such as Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch also required a takeover or just went belly-up.
Janet Yellen’s comments on Face the Nation can be read in full in the following transcript, and seen in the following video: