banks are on fire again...

NASDAQ:SIVB   SVB Financial Group
The banking system is bursting at the seams again. It all started with the recent series of bankruptcies of several American banks at once and it happened in just a week, which was an echo of the problems of the 2007 crisis, which, as people hoped, we were able to solve.
The main signal of the disaster was a sudden failure in the Silicon Valley bank. On March 9, people's deposits disappeared, losses totaled an incredible $42 billion, which brought out an underestimated risk in the system.
The problem was hidden in long-term bonds, in which the bank invested during a period of low interest rates and high asset prices, and when the Federal Reserve System sharply raised rates, the bank began to have problems. As a result, the bank was left with huge losses that were not previously recognized due to the fact that American capital rules do not require most banks to report a drop in the price of bonds that they plan to hold to maturity.

620 billion dollars – that's how many unrecognized losses were in the entire banking system of America at the end of 2022. To understand how much it is: this amount is equal to about a third of the total capital stock of American banks.
The pandemic has brought even more problems to the economy, and the banking system has become even more shaky. A large volume of new deposits poured into banks, and the Federal Reserve's stimulus measures pumped cash into the system. These deposits were directed by banks to purchase long-term bonds and government-guaranteed mortgage-backed securities, and all this increased the risk of ruin in the event of an increase in interest rates.

Having bought bonds with depositors' funds, the bank essentially used other people's funds, but the problem was not that, but that holding bonds to maturity requires matching them with deposits, and as rates rise, competition for deposits increases. At large banks, such as JPMorgan Chase or Bank of America, rising rates tend to increase their earnings thanks to floating-rate loans. However, in about 4,700 small and medium-sized banks with total assets of $10.5 trillion, rising rates tend to reduce their margins, which helps explain why stock prices of some banks have fallen.

Another problem for banks is the risk that depositors will start withdrawing their deposits during the crisis, which will force the bank to cover the outflow of deposits by selling assets. If this happens, the bank's losses loom, and its capital stock may look comforting today, but most of its filling will suddenly become an accounting fiction. That is why the Federal Reserve System acted this way last weekend, being ready to provide loans secured by bank bonds. By providing loans with good collateral to stop the flight, the Fed is right, but such easy conditions come with certain costs. By creating the expectation that the Fed will take on the risks of interest rate changes in a crisis, they encourage banks to behave recklessly.

The coming year requires regulators to make the system safer and less risky for the people. It is necessary to abolish some strange rules that do not require reporting and answers for increased risks that relate to small and medium-sized banks,
Now the government has announced its intention to rescue depositors of the Silicon Valley Bank, which indicates that such banks carry a systemic risk and they need to be rescued in order not to destroy the entire economy of the country. But saving depositors is only half the job, in order to eliminate the repetition of today's and past problems, it is necessary to introduce the same accounting and liquidity rules that big banks follow, as is the case in Europe, and will have to submit plans to the Fed for their orderly resolution if they fail.

These decisions and actions concern not only the United States, these rules should require the entire banking sector to recognize the risks associated with an increase in interest rates. Unrealized losses carry the risk of bankruptcy and banks with such losses should be confirmed by more thorough control and verification than those who do not have such losses.
Timely testing will help to avoid bankruptcy, which would simulate a situation in which the bank's bond portfolio is released to the market, while rates rise even more. After that, it would be possible to determine whether the system has sufficient capital to avoid bankruptcy or not.
Banks, of course, will resist additional control, increasing capital reserves, but all this will help to improve the quality of system security.
Depositors and taxpayers around the world face intense fear, and they should not live with the fear and fragility that they thought had gone down in history many years ago.

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