Global Analysis from the European Perspective. Preparing for the world of tomorrow

Silicon Valley Bank – what is this all about?

It is not inflation, nor the Fed, nor the NFP, and certainly not the hostilities in Ukraine that is attracting investors’ attention, but the major problem that the U.S. banking sector is beset with, rendering especially Silicon Valley Bank barely capable of making payments to its customers. All this reminds us of 2008, although there are no clear signs yet that we are on the verge of collapse.

SVB is a very specific bank in the US market. It is a bank that deals mainly with technology companies. Though it provides financial services to them, primarily it takes deposits from them. The bank participates in venture capital projects (venture capital), but it has also invested the surpluses in the US bond market or in MBS. The sharp rise in interest rates and the resulting significant revaluation of bonds resulted in a large financial loss in the bank’s portfolio, which is nothing unusual. In fact, this was something normal across the financial sector. However, this is where the peculiarities of SVB itself come into play. It is a bank that manages hundreds or even thousands of technology companies or start-ups. This sector, in turn, has been struggling for some time to catch its breath after the strong last 2 years. Companies have begun to slow their growth, look for savings and reach for capital from deposits. In order to get liquidity, SVB was forced to sell all liquid assets worth over $20 billion, incurring a loss of almost $2 billion! That’s a sizable hole in the bank’s balance sheet. At the same time, the bank announced an additional equity offering to close the gap, prompting investors to divest themselves of the bank’s shares. Yesterday (March 9, 2023), the shares plunged by as much as about 70%! These problems are still deepening today before the weekend, which is why some have already drawn parallels with 2008.

Of course, it’s important to remember that SVB and the tech industry are a specific sector and may have less overall impact on the overall stock market than the collapse of Lehman Brothers or the problems that occurred at Bear Stearns. The key question is whether this is just an isolated incident or a major problem across the industry. 

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