US banking crisis: federal body prepares to put First Republic into receivership | Silicon Valley Bank

The US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is preparing to place First Republic under receivership, Reuters reported on Friday, as the worst banking crisis since 2008 continued to hammer mid-sized US banks.

The California-based bank looks set to be the third such financial institution to collapse this year, following the failure of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature in March.

On Friday trading in First Republic was briefly halted after its share plunged close to 50%, the second such fall in a week. The bank revealed on Monday that it had lost $100bn in deposits during last month’s banking crisis.

Although the withdrawals have abated at many banks, First Republic appears to be in peril, even after receiving a $30bn infusion of deposits from 11 major banks in March.

The US banking regulator has decided that the troubled regional lender’s position has deteriorated and there is no more time to pursue a rescue through the private sector, Reuters reported.

First Republic and FDIC representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The news comes as the Federal Reserve has admitted it failed to “take forceful enough action” ahead of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank last month. In a hard-hitting report released on Friday, the Fed blamed extremely poor bank management, weakened regulations and lax government supervision for the failure.

Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse triggered an ongoing banking crisis for mid-sized US banks.

The report, authored by Federal Reserve staff and Michael Barr, the Fed’s vice-chair for supervision, takes a critical look at what the Fed missed as SVB grew quickly in size in the years leading up to its collapse. The report also points out underlying cultural issues at the Fed, where supervisors were unwilling to be hard on bank management when they saw growing problems.

“The Federal Reserve did not appreciate the seriousness of critical deficiencies in the firm’s governance, liquidity, and interest rate risk management. These judgments meant that Silicon Valley Bank remained well-rated, even as conditions deteriorated and significant risk to the firm’s safety and soundness emerged,” the report said.

The Fed also said it planned to re-examine how it regulates banks the size of Silicon Valley Bank, which had more than $200bn in assets when it failed. One criticism that has arisen from Silicon Valley Bank’s failure is that the Fed and other regulators took a lighter approach to supervision for mid-size banks following the passage of a 2018 banking law that eased some of the tougher restrictions on the industry after the 2008 financial crisis.

“While higher supervisory and regulatory requirements may not have prevented the firm’s failure, they would likely have bolstered the resilience of Silicon Valley Bank,” the report said.

The Fed is also critical of how the bank managed executive compensation. The report indicates that executive compensation at the bank was geared toward short-term profits and the stock price. There were no incentives tied to risk management. Silicon Valley Bank notably had no chief risk officer at the firm for roughly a year, during a time when the bank was growing quickly.

The nation’s banks are regulated by a troika of regulators: the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. All have been criticized for potentially missing signs that Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank might be in trouble.

The Fed’s report, which includes the release of internal reports and Fed communications, is a rare look into how the central bank supervises individual banks as one of the nation’s bank regulators. Typically such processes are confidential, and rarely seen by the public, but the Fed chose to release these reports to show how the bank was managed up to its failure.

People stand outside a Silicon Valley Bank branch in Santa Clara, California, on 10 March.
People stand outside a Silicon Valley Bank branch in Santa Clara, California, on 10 March. Photograph: Jeff Chiu/AP

Silicon Valley Bank was the go-to bank for venture capital firms and technology startups for years, but failed spectacularly in March, setting off a crisis of confidence for the banking industry. Federal regulators seized Silicon Valley Bank on 10 March after customers withdrew tens of billions of dollars in deposits in a matter of hours.

Two days later, they seized Signature Bank of New York. Although regulators guaranteed all the banks’ deposits, customers at other mid-size regional banks rushed to pull out their money – often with a few taps on a mobile device – and move it to the perceived safety of big money center banks such as JPMorgan Chase.

The report also looks at the role social media and technology played in the bank’s last days. While the bank’s management was poor and ultimately that was the reason the bank failed, the report also notes that social media caused a bank run that happened in just hours, compared with days for earlier bank runs like those seen in 2008.

Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report


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