“Depositors shouldn’t get anything beyond the insured $250,000”. Then what do we do with the billions in remaining assets? Appropriate them, and leave small and mid businesses hanged to dry?
“This is a bailout”. It would be if shareholders were to get their money back, which doesn’t seem likely. The government will use the bank assets to make customers, not owners, whole.
Generic screeching against the tech world. I get the schaudenfreude, but this will not hurt big tech and VCs as much as tens of thousands of small businesses, and the people employed at them. Some billionaires will be upset at some relatively insignificant losses, while hundreds of thousands may lose their jobs.
Absolutely wipe out the equityholders of SVB. They deserve nothing, because that's what you should end up with if you own stock in a company that goes bankrupt. Claw back executive pay if that's something you can do. But kill a bunch of startups because of their choice of financial institution? I just don't get where that comes from.
As I said on another post this weekend, I’ll remember the comments I’m reading here for the rest of my life.
Startups are going to get most of their deposits back-- perhaps all if there's an acquisition. If SVB is not acquired, I hope the FDIC is able to get a substantial dividend quickly so that they can keep operating and that everyone works to keep disruption low.
But I don't think the federal government needs to make depositors whole beyond the insurance limits. I think that sets its own bad precedent. Maybe some startups are going to lose 5-40% of their cash because of their treasury management choices. That is OK.
The times when I was a founder of a startup with a substantial cash balance--- we hedged the bank risk. There was a cost to it. I don't think those costs should be socialized.
Maybe there should be changes made to help protect depositors more, but instead of a collected and rational conversation about how we'll treat deposits going forward we're getting glib "just give these people there money back, they don't deserve this" responses. Of course these things are tragedies, but the degree to which the federal government assists people in these situations is a complex discussion, and we have to come up with a consistent approach.
People are asking about salty response, but this kind of cavalier attitude toward the financial system from supposedly serious thought leaders is a bit alarming.
Seems to me all these "disruptors", "thought leaders", "visionaries" are disrupted and their plan to deal with this is nowhere to be seen.
It was Mike Tyson - https://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/fl-xpm-2012-11-09-sfl-mi...
It's pretty ridiculous for people to need to judge whether their bank is fiscally sound.
> It's pretty ridiculous for people to need to judge whether their bank is fiscally sound.
This is a great idea. We should look into this more.
iirc three researchers asked this same question back in 2018.
> A potential policy recommendation was posed in 2018 by three researchers, two of whom worked in the Treasury Department. Under their proposal, the Federal Reserve would offer the option to all individuals and businesses in the United States to open a bank account, termed a “Fed Account,” with the Federal Reserve itself, providing an alternative to private banks or credit unions. Such an option could have significant effects on a wide array of monetary and economic issues.
If you operate in 1% space of wealth there are and should be risks. Making everything the lowest common denominator literally leaves us with Camacho for president.
That 100k difference wouldn't make any difference here though, since the problem is for businesses (startups mostly) who had accounts there.
The 250K insurance limit seems quite reasonable for individual personal accounts per bank. But applying the same limit to a whole company which may well have more than 250K in payroll per month... well there's a problem.
No Sam, it was people like you who underplayed the magnitude of this, and are now panicking, and looking for a bailout, and are entirely unable to justify why of the several hundred or more banks FDIC has closed (though one of the larger ones), SVB should be special, beyond "well, it's MY money".
If you had a single-owner account and a joint account, you would have $250K in insurance for each of those accounts.
The FDIC has publicly said there will be an advance dividend and I don't see why it wouldn't be substantial, given that there's going to be a LOT of recovery unless SVB has big non-public problems.
FDIC should pay early (Monday-Tuesday, not anytime "next week" as they've indicated so far) and should pay a big chunk, even though it's not completely safe.
Every day that goes by with uncertainty, the cost of the fear grows.
Not much longer. It's only Thursday's run that tipped SVB into insolvency.
What triggers in their holdings do you think started the run?
The question I have is do some of the proceeds of the liquidation get used for $250,000 insurance payout first? Or do the tax payers get to help?
Yup. FDIC gets the bank, and has to pay the insured amount. Then, the remainder must be managed for the benefit of depositors, other creditors, and shareholders. Any shortfall of the insured amount can be paid from the deposit insurance fund.
> Or do the tax payers get to help?
The FDIC deposit insurance fund is paid for by banks.
CTO Recourse Technologies; acquired by Symantec in 2002.
CEO, later VP of Engineering TransLattice; acquired by QualComm 2017.
And a couple of other things inbetween. Now I'm a middle school/high school teacher.
Your assumption of bad faith is terrible.
> A big variable here is simply when and how money market sweep funds will be handled and made available, if you had millions without sweeping into a money market fund, that's silly.
You just use IntraFi and they take care of the details for you. Odds are your bank makes the introduction when you ask the question about the exposure.
> This is one of the dumbest views
Make an argument without calling people dumb.
> If the government can protect against huge losses because of their liquidity, why in the world wouldn't we let them? The bonds SVB held are only mark-to-market losses right now because they haven't matured.
Duration risk is real risk.
In a discussion elsewhere, the moment I mentioned my opposition to a bailout, the immediate response was, "Sounds like you haven’t run a startup ¯\_(ツ)_/¯". I've started 4 companies, one of them a classic venture-backed thing.
The immediate assumption of "Oh, you people who are not as me and just can't possibly understand tech, so you don't get to have an opinion," is exactly the sort of arrogant exceptionalism that got a lot of people into this jam. Like, I get that it's awful to realize one's business is possibly doomed. I have been there. But in that moment to flail around and blame others rather than understanding the mistake? That's a great way to keep making the same sort of arrogant mistakes.
> is exactly the sort of arrogant exceptionalism that got a lot of people into this jam
Well, I don't think you start a business if you're being entirely rational, either. You basically need an outsized belief in your own capabilities and need to have the erroneous belief that you entirely control your own destiny.
Black swan events that might entirely wipe you out and that are completely out of your control cause cognitive dissonance.
I do think FDIC should choose to incur some amount of risk of being surprised by additional liabilities by making a quick dividend payment. The benefits of keeping things moving and adding some clarity soon outweigh a small risk of partially bailing out losses.
You hire a financial manager, in-house or a service. Basic delegation task that any one (individual or business) dealing with more than a million dollars should probably be doing anyways. Certainly anyone dealing with the kind of money we're talking about here with SVB's customers.
But those people are just a noisy minority. Most people are quietly somewhere else on the continuum between those extremes.
It's hard to dredge up deep, deep wells of sympathy for folks who were already playing the salary game at double the value of half the players. One can't escape the sense that if they've done the kind of budgeting that a regular American does, they will be fine.
This allows them to keep those employees at arm's length and not have to pay the kind of salary and benefits that their "real" employees enjoy. It has also great bonuses in that if the "real" employees want to abuse the snot out of those contractors (including really vile stuff, obvious violations of the equal employment act), the tech company and the contracting company are heavily incentivized to "solve" the problem by removing the contracted employee from the position. Employees in that position, should they want to take action, have to go through multiple layers of red tape and ambiguous responsibility and risk upsetting the apple cart for all of their peers, because the tech company is always at Liberty to cancel the entire contract to avoid a "problem" contractor.
The whole system is a little bit rotten.
And yeah, it sure does suck for folks who are going to get bit as clients of Etsy because Etsy didn't hedge bets. Maybe Etsy learned a lesson.
The majority of your argument revolves around the idea that only rich people in this “rotten system” will be affected, or that this is an important lesson. When it’s pointed out that there are many types of employees who aren’t rich, you say they don’t count because they’re contractors, ignoring that even if true, which I’m not necessarily granting, it still doesn’t matter since that contracting job will still probably disappear and there is a high likelihood that they can’t just be immediately positioned somewhere new. The rich developer may have an easier time landing a new position than the cook getting a new shift from the contracting company somewhere new. But I suppose that’s irrelevant, because the point about cooks being contractors actually had nothing to do with the topic at hand of whether they deserve to be colateral damage. Rather, it was meant to derail the conversation into a long digression about how these contracting agreements further prove how “rotten” these startups are… and thus deserve to learn a lesson about treasury performance.
I hope so. I don't expect the sellers to have done anything different. Corporations, however, have a responsibility to manage their finances effectively. "We weren't smart enough in that space" is no more an excuse than it would be if sellers were having problems because Etsy's web infrastructure broke down due to lack of proper planning for redundancy and fault tolerance.
And I never said nor implied that only rich people will be affected. But they're basically the only ones with power to do anything different here. The rest of us are along for the ride.
Here's the question. Now that this happened, do the rest of us just accept that this is how it works? Because if we do, nothing changes, and we just get to sit back and wait for the whole system to unspool again. Or, we could stop treating the machine in California like it's better than a Vegas slot machine for most players and start building something better.
Just so I understand correctly, if the seller has an LLC they made through legalzoom.com for their Etsy bowl business (which is very common and highly recommended), then does your sympathy for them immediately evaporate since they now have a “responsibility to manage their finances effectively”? Why exactly is the Etsy seller off the hook in this scenario? Is it a headcount requirement? If the Etsy seller LLC is 3 people (two sisters and their mom), now are they irresponsible for using Etsy? Are all those 3 person startups in YC different somehow? Only in that they make “useless” things and the Etsy people make “useful” things, and that translates to whether a corporation needs to be responsible?
> Here's the question. Now that this happened, do the rest of us just accept that this is how it works? Because if we do, nothing changes, and we just get to sit back and wait for the whole system to unspool again.
Accept that what is how it works? It depends on the solution. If the solution is providing temporary backstops to depositors so that a sale to another private bank can be more attractive, then I don’t think that’s anything earth shattering to accept? Especially considering it would probably result in a private solution happening faster at little to no cost to the taxpayer. If congress empowers the FDIC to claw back SVB share sales to help make depositors whole, I think that’s also not anything that people would have a problem accepting? Like part of the problem here is that completely different parties are lumped together and in this fury the only acceptable answer is “no help!” No one is arguing for SVB to be bailed out. Those shares are going to zero. That is a sufficient market result. Enabling a bunch of assets that still have value to be maximized to avoid the philosophical dilemma of our Etsy seller doesn’t seem to be the “end all” nightmare scenario it’s being chalked up to be here. If anything, maybe the focus should be on plummeting interest rates to zero making precisely the kinds of “full liquidity paid for checking accounts” become an endangered species in the first place. Or maybe then raising rates at break neck speed despite having questionable results on the inflation they’re targeting, while clearly affecting random pieces of the economy.
> Or, we could stop treating the machine in California like it's better than a Vegas slot machine for most players and start building something better.
It seems like choosing a random 30% of Silicon Valley companies to put in hard mode is a close approximation to the Vegas slot machine than fad imitating zero interest checking accounts that were in no way high risk irresponsible investments that had the chance to wildly benefit the depositors if the bet would have “paid off” vs. if it crashed to zero. Especially given the high likelihood that there are sufficient assets to make depositors either whole or almost whole, it seems even more the case that those disproportionately affected will be workers, and not companies. Not to even mention the fact that those most responsible (Thiel) aren’t going to suffer, nor are the mega tech companies that can easily survive this, and may even end up just absorbing some of these companies and consolidating even more.
I am super curious as to what “something better” looks like though. Because right now, the world 6 months from now where a random subsection of tech and wine workers had their year ruined, while big tech companies and VCs are still doing just fine, doesn’t exactly seem like fertile ground for whatever amazing new system you have dreamed up.
Headcount and age. Etsy is a +1,000 employee company that's been around over a decade. Practically bedrock by Valley standards. I personally draw the line between "small" and "big enough to know better" at 100+ employees (around where the EEOC draws the line for mandatory reporting). I acknowledge people may disagree on this topic; that's where my line happens to be.
FWIW, I don't disagree on the mechanics of your suggestion for back-stopping SVB enough for most folks to be made whole. I'm more concerned about the mechanisms that led to one bank becoming such a linchpin for the whole system. We should have learned about "too big to fail" already.
> It seems like choosing a random 30% of Silicon Valley companies to put in hard mode is a close approximation to the Vegas slot machine.
Yes... That's what SV just did to its ecosystem due to over-reliance on one bad bank because "optimization is king" is the mantra of the whole machine. For us to not find ourselves in this boat again in 20 years, the people with money power in SV need to un-learn the lesson that's been driving SV for decades. Someone needs to be less-than-optimal for the system to not be so fragile.
To be clear, Etsy is not my concern here. They will probably survive just fine regardless of whether we deem them to be responsible or not. That's part of the point. The sole question was the sellers, and trying to examine why they inspire more sympathy to similar-sized companies that may be directly banking with SVB. Hence my question of whether the mere existence of a legal entity is the difference, given that in fact many Etsy sellers do of course have simple LLCs set up. I would fine "Hey, Etsy sellers need to look into Etsy's bank to be responsible too" consistent with "3 person YC companies need to be responsible about the bank they choose", or acknowledging that's a tall order for both. But not one and not the other, was my only point here.
> Yes... That's what SV just did to its ecosystem due to over-reliance on one bad bank because "optimization is king" is the mantra of the whole machine.
If it puts your mind at ease, I think the result is going to be the same regardless of what happens to depositors: everyone now will try to spread out their money and sweeps will become part of startups 101, etc. In that sense, the system has worked: the irresponsible bankers are being punished, they and their investors lost their bank. I promise no one is going to wake up and say "well, glad that got magically solved" and not be super paranoid going forward. If anything, if depositors aren't made whole, this particular demographic is more likely to, to your point, over-optimize in that direction (perhaps create investment vehicles to short regional banks or something, who knows).
I think the main issue is that the status quo is that more often than not such classes never learn any lessons, so people are cheering on any hurt they receive, no matter who else gets in the way. Discontent is such a state that people are becoming, as they say, Jokerfied.
Without derailing the discussion into whether Etsy "should have known better" (which to be clear is an argument that would be made in a simplified vacuum given the complexity of them probably just being an intermediary between a credit card processor and the sellers and thus it being fairly logistically complicated to set up that intermediary as some sort of multi-bank-account system or whatever), but regardless, even if that is the worst way to do it in the world, the point is that that's not the individual sellers' fault, and they shouldn't be punished for it. Again, as I mentioned in my comment, the position that "Well individual Etsy sellers should really do a financial analysis on the host platform's bank, quarterly, to account for interest rate changes, and if they independently conclude that that bank is unhealthy, they should pull their store off Etsy and... ???" is a bit hard to swallow, and I'm not sure if a world we really want to create.
This, by the way, is why ordinary Americans are suffering while the billionaires are winning and laughing at us. They have us fighting with each other for scraps. $120k/yr after taxes doesn't go very far at all for a family of four. Kids eat a lot of food! Sure, it goes roughly twice as far as $60k/yr does, and, saved wisely and not spent on yachts, cocaine, and girls, provides a bit more of a financial cushion in case of a calamity like the one we're in, but SVB's CEO made $4.8 million last year, which, budgeted by a regular American, is enough for several lifetimes. A software dev making $120k/yr, he is not.
Have however much sympathy you can muster for software developers who, yes, have more than you do, but don't lose sight of the bigger picture.
... It won't happen because we don't want it to. But it could.
Should we have a strong safety net, so that people who lose their jobs due to market disruptions or executive mismanagement do not suffer? Absolutely. And if it's currently inadequate, by all means let's improve it.
But I think it's wrong to try to protect jobs through government subsidies to industries where execs made bad choices. Which is exactly what a lot of people are apparently asking for when they're asking for depositors to get retroactive free deposit insurance here.
Does this mean that rich people have to be more careful managing gobs of cash? Yes, but that has always been the case. Treasury management is a thing that exists both as a thing people do professionally and as a service you can buy.
I understand that some people are young enough that they have either not heard about bank failures or did not feel like it applied to them due to being in a period that was very good for banks. But they are and they do: https://www.fdic.gov/bank/historical/bank/
Young people hear plenty about bank failures - specifically as a success story for big government, a problem we solved, such that depositors are secure these days.
I recognize that startups are in a bit of a weird place where they might have a lot of money to manage before they are sophisticated enough to have a big finance team. If only there were some sort of entity specialized in dealing with their unique needs… oh wait.
But the economy's also going to be fine here. Most businesses with a lot of money understand that bank failure risk is just one of the many financial risks to manage. To the extent a startup wants to have millions of dollars but not hire somebody competent to manage that money, them's the breaks.
The same thing would be true for startups that don't take security seriously, for example. I feel bad for the founders here, but no worse than I would for one who experienced hackers getting in and stealing the data. Even if they had hired "sort of entity specialized in dealing with their" security needs. Picking a bad vendor happens, and if you bet your company on a vendor choice in a vital area, well, sometimes those bets don't come out like you hoped.
This is a poorer world than the one where it’s not, is my point.
What are you even supposed to do here, open accounts at 40 different banks when you get a $10 million check? That’s pointless silliness. Is this really what we want entrepreneurs to be spending their time on?
I understand that some see startup founders as delicate smol beans who are too uwu soft to have to actually do some work. But I have been told repeatedly that these people are genius future titans of industry, backed by the most financially savvy people on the planet. So I think maybe they can handle it?
If somebody is in the incredibly privileged position of being handed $10m in one go, but is also uninterested in managing the money, then I would expect them to hire a part-time CFO. Or at the very least to split the money up and put it into two different banks, which in this case would have resulted in no payroll disruption and the safety of 90-100% of their money.
Having said that, as I've been reading about this for the first time over the past couple days, I have become a bit less sympathetic to companies with very large deposits at a single bank. It does seem that there are mechanisms, like "insured cash sweep", that good financial officers should have been taking advantage of. But I still have uncertainty about this and want to read more about it.
But I think the general point of the other commenter in this thread is a good one: a company with, say $2M to $10M in cash deposits should ideally be able to access banking services easily and with negligible risk. This is not an enormous business size! It's better for society for it to be possible to run businesses like that without having to fear big surprises in the financial system killing you on a random Friday.
> should ideally
Sure. Ideally, we should all live in the Big Rock Candy Mountains.  But back here in reality, companies have to manage all sorts of risks. If they don't want to hire a professional finance person and don't want to avail themselves of services that solve their problems, then that is a choice they can make. It's just not the taxpayer's job to kiss their boo-boos and make it all better when their gamble doesn't turn out so well.
>which in this case would have resulted in no payroll disruption and the safety of 90-100% of their money.
Why would it have resulted in that? We've already established that any amount above $250k in one bank may as as well be vaporized already, you just don't know it yet.
> Why would it have resulted in that?
Because our modern regulatory regime is pretty good.
If you have your money in two bank accounts and have reasonable capital reserves, you'll be able to make payroll from one of them. So the short-term problem is solved. In your example, you've got $5m to work with.
For the failed bank, the FDIC will give you $250k right away, and in short order a large percentage gets paid out as they liquidate assets. For SVB, that starts within a week: https://www.fdic.gov/resources/resolutions/bank-failures/fai...
The expectations I'm seeing for that are on the order of 50%. So a week later, you're back up to $7.75 million to work with, with more to come in as assets are sold. Maybe you get everything back, maybe you take a haircut. The estimates I'm seeing are in the 0-20% range, so you end up with $9-10 million back over time.
And that's just the FDIC. Functioning businesses have income that they can use to pay salaries or as justification for loans or selling equity. They can also pursue acquisition by somebody who was lucky or smart enough not to have high egg/basket ratios.
So in the end, maybe we end up with a few failed companies, but it's not a systemic risk, and it's the sort of object lesson that helps people understand why they need to take cash management seriously beyond a certain level. That surely will suck for some people, but that's how capitalism works.
It really isn't. The republican party has spent the last 50 years dismantling regulation. Thats why shit like this happens.
I'm not exactly sure off the top of my head what the similar defense necessity story is for Silicon Valley.
By lighting large piles of nearly-free Saudi money on fire to undercut sustainable businesses on price.
The svb ceo asked congress to weaken Dodd-Frank. If that's a bad idea, then congress should say no; that's their job.
Apparently banking over trivial amounts of money ($250k isn't even one month's cash use -- ie payroll and health insurance -- for a 15-ish person sfbay company) requiring significant work to make that cash unlikely to just disappear is no way to run a country.
If doing decent treasury management is too darned hard for rich people to do, I don't think that's a problem for the government to manage. Beyond the obvious expedient of using two or three banks, which would have solved most problems for most companies here, there are a number of obvious market-driven solutions. E.g., https://www.difxs.com/ or https://www.g2.com/categories/treasury-management
Yeah, this is some ideologically driven smearing of people who are literally like I want to stick my seed round in a checking account and not have that disappear. For what it's worth, I'm not rich; I'm like a hundred-thousandaire. (And not affected, though friends are.)
Disappointing to see someone like you gloating that a bank screwed a bunch of small business customers. From reading your writing, I doubt you'd cosign "basic economic services like a checking account are use at your own risk" in almost any other area.
I get that you want to be able to be handed millions of dollars and have somebody else take care of that for you. Who doesn't want that? I just don't understand why you think it's the job of poorer people to subsidize you if you take a risk with those millions and it doesn't pan out.
> "basic economic services like a checking account are use at your own risk"
I in fact don't cosign that; I've been very clear that I support mandatory FDIC insurance with its current very generous limit. I also support the FDIC's resolution process where they immediately pay out the $250k and then work hard to quickly pay a large portion of the remainder. That's a giant level of risk reduction.
But if somebody is rich enough that they have millions in cash and haven't bothered to take basic precautions like "use two banks", I don't think that's a problem such that (much poorer) taxpayers should be obliged to make it all better. If it happened to a friend I would feel bad for them personally, of course. But not so much that I would be calling for a government bailout. Capitalism works because risks yield both gains and losses. People who don't like that should manage their risks.
Q: How much cash do small farmers / wineries have on deposit at their bank?
"Show your working" ... https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes452099.htm
> Holding three months of payroll [..]
Three months of payroll ... in cash?
I have two good friends who own and run wineries in France. Both of them are relatively successful, but neither of them have anywhere near 20 employees, for the simple reason that they can't afford to. The majority of the work is done by family members.
Average is above one bank a year.
I can't escape the sense that if they've done the kind of budgeting that a "regular American" does, they're in deep trouble.
But when you have nearly double that salary, what's the excuse for failing to save?
Already picked up some great deals and next week is booked dense.
Is that really what you want?
SVB was undone by a bank run, not because they were doing anything particularly risky. Something like 1/4 or 1/3 of all their deposits tried to exit on Thursday - no bank can survive that given how fractional reserve banking works.
The bank run was the proximate cause of the failure, but they also made some big bets and lost, making them vulnerable to the bank run in the first place.
What’s the point? Either set a limit that can’t be skirted by maintaining multiple accounts or guarantee the same amount in a single account.
If FDIC wants it to be possible to insure that much, they should cut out the middlemen and financial engineering requirements and just insure deposits of every business to that amount. If they don’t want to insure that much, then IntraFi and other similar services should be illegal.
Why though? The "$250k per bank" rule is clearly a feature of the system, not a bug. If the FDIC wanted to have the insurance limit be across all banks, that's how they would've structured the rule.
But they didn't, because their purpose wasn't to provide unlimited protections to corporations from bank failure, it was to limit the impact of any individual bank's failures and decrease the likelihood of bank runs.
The current rule does this effectively, and encourages larger businesses to diversify their assets while also providing significant downside protection to many individuals and small businesses.
FDIC doesn’t want to insure that much against a single bank failure. Encouraging diversification of large balances helps the FDIC’s goals, since it reduces the impact of single bank failures and reduces the possibility of single failures turning into broader economic collapses without increasing the cost to the Treasury of a single bank failure, which is an efficient way of promoting the purpose for which the FDIC exists.
It might be efficient for the FDIC to require complex and expensive financial engineering just to keep operating capital safe, but it's hostile to businesses, especially small ones, and is out of reach for many.
The FDIC exists to protect against a general collapse of banking like the one that preceded the Great Depression, not as a generalized subsidy to business.
If you'd like to argue that the FDIC should go further so as not to subsidize people with shit-tons of cash, I'm certainly open to that. But the increased regulatory complexity might not be worth the total risk reduction, so I'd want to see some math. I suspect it's mainly a red herring, though, as I couldn't find any sign that Intrafi is a particularly large business.
There's a serious risk of contagion here.
But if there are a ton of regional banks who took advantage of laxer regulation and had balance sheets in as poor a shape as SVB, then I am fine with some of them failing too. It won't be anywhere near the problem that 2008 or the S&L crisis was, and we'll end up with tighter regulation for those banks next time around.
Right now, everyone in the country with uninsured accounts is being incentivized to pull those deposits and pull them fast. We don’t know how things will turn out, but there is obviously a major risk of contagion.
We could be in the eye of a hurricane. Or we could be in any of the non-hurricane locations on the planet. I think the latter is more likely.
Seems like the verdict is in.
Not to mention doing so when you know that most of your customers' businesses are incredibly sensitive to interest rate hikes, in part because you have explicitly marketed to that market for years.
By that rubric, you could perfectly well claim that your accountant, laundromat, and lawn care companies are systematically important, because they'd fire their employees if their checking accounts disappeared.
You're the one claiming there will be contagion here. I don't think that's the case. If a bunch of unprofitable companies with bad treasury management go under, I think the rest of the economy will be fine. Companies go out of business every day.
If you are claiming that tech is somehow special such that contagion will harm the wider economy, as was the case with mortgage-backed securities in 2008, then any taxpayer-funded bailout should be a one-time deal that goes along with enough regulation so that contagion is no longer a risk in the future.
Banks make money through risk. Sometimes those risks work out and people make money. Sometimes those risks don't work out and banks fail. This is capitalism 101, and to the extent banks are capitalist enterprises, there's no way around it. Government's job here is just to limit the damage.
If you want banks to be perfectly safe, then you are arguing for government-chartered, not-for-profit, non-capitalist banks. These are things that exist, but we don't have them here in the US. We could, if you really want people with millions in cash to have someplace perfectly safe to park their money, you can certainly argue for their creation.
In the sense that I never said that, sure.
The only thing I claimed, even implicitly, is firing a bunch of people because their employer's cash disappeared would be bad.
That has a technical meaning in finance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_contagion
I repeat: "In the sense that I never said that, sure."
In which case, since you're not claiming contagion risk, I return to my previous point that there is no reason for taxpayers to bail out rich people who took a gamble and lost.
> No other banks have yet popped up with similar risk exposure so its not a systemic issue like 15 years ago and startups are not that big a part of the US economy.
That doesn't matter in the slightest. Companies don't do deep evaluations of the financial risks of their banks (as clearly evidenced by what's happening right now). They'll flee from what they perceive as unsafe into what they perceive as safe, regardless of balance sheet realities.
One of the primary issues being discussed is the insured limits at banks, and the uncertainty on whether depositors can be made "whole" (it's unclear whether people saying that mean 100% or something close to 100%, so I'm putting it in quotes, some people are being really loose with their terms in this thread). Why the fuck would people, given that context, ever move "all of their money" to only the biggest 3 or 4 institutions and increase their risk by consolidating in exactly the same way that caused the current problems? If anything this is a potential boon for the many smaller banks as they can gain additional depositors as people wise up to their risk exposure.
Consolidating increases the risk of a bank run, decreases the risk to the individual depositor.
Until the US lets the largest bank fail this will continue to be the case.
Most banks actually have most of their deposits NOT insured. Most banks are not bofa.
I remember when people used to go build something useful themselves instead of complaining about the success of others. Why don't we try to get back to that kind of culture?
And most Americans have no conception of being able to have 250k in a checking account.
The vengeance attitude can be taken too far however but as depositors are ultimately made 80-100% whole seems a reasonable outcome.
Bottom line uninsured means uninsured. Read your contracts. Although shouldn’t be angry if they can be made whole.
I would also like to point out that it's perfectly okay to simultaneously take pleasure in an industry being culled of precisely what you described, while also feeling bad for some of those who may lose their jobs as a result. Ain't nuance neat?
If startups were going under because it turns out that they were pointless and there was no market, and they ran out of runway… then sure.
But this is their house catching on fire and all of their money just vanishing through no fault of their own.
It doesn’t distinguish between good startups and dumb ones, real businesses and nonsense — how could you root for this beyond pettiness?
You can choose to hold money in multiple banks. There are services that will happily set up laddered CDs across many institutions for you to diversify exposure and maximize insurance.
To use your tortured analogy: if my neighbor's house burned down, and he didn't buy fire insurance... I would be sad, but I don't exactly think it's my problem (or the government's) to pay to make him whole.
> If startups were going under because it turns out that they were pointless and there was no market, and they ran out of runway… then sure.
I know we all like to believe we control our own destiny. Tiny little inconsequential-seeming choices wobble startups between success and failure every single day. Having a good product is such a tiny piece of it all.
Edit: And the people saying the “CFO” should have done better…at that point, one person is probably still founder, CTO, CHRO, CFO, snack buyer, and janitor combined (been there).
You just ask your bank to place the money using IntraFi. You can get a little more interest by locking up some of the money on a 9-12mo ladder, which makes sense if you have 18 mos of runway.
If you have an unanticipated expense or opportunity and need to spend some early, it's a small penalty to get the money out-- usually 6 months of interest, so as long as the probability of having to spend a bunch more is low you're ahead.
If it's so easy to get it right, why so many companies got it wrong?
Could it be because startups don't usually start by hiring people with a lot of expertise in finance?
Venture capitalists provide banking advice to the companies they fund, and this isn't on the list of things most mention. Now we're reminded why it's a best practice.
I think it's hubris to think that you can have tens of millions of dollars and can ignore vital things with it (account security, systemic risk from counterparties, etc).
Your first priority should be to assure the safety of wherever you put it. Whether that is diversification to the point where all the funds are insured or inquiry into the finances of the institution where you plan on putting all the eggs, or a mixture of lesser diversification and diligence, it should be done.
> my job is to spend that money in the next 18-24 months, not save it.
Well, your first job is to make sure that money is still there when you need to spend it, otherwise, you aren’t going to be spending it.
If you still think the risk is too high, pay the premium for CDARs or insurance.
It is not about removing all risks. It is about making it acceptable. If your primary bank fails, you can manage it like any other strategic business risk.
It would be great if VCs would provide simple cash management services to their fledgling investments, though.
Thus, an easy prudent solution is to have a second bank, likely a "too big to fail bank", with emergency funds to cover the day-to-day until you can roll over to money locked into time-based investments or the system has worked its course on the first bank.
In my personal finances, I have done that in housing deals going above the insured limit by immediately moving money into government-based financial instruments. Then as appropriate, I transferred that to my preferred investments and risk profile. If I, as a layman doing a once-in-a-decade housing deal, can manage it, then a startup can.
Its small, but also easy to at least partially mitigate.
It was dirt simple to just use IntraFi. You just say you want it, and sign the form. If you want a little more interest income, you do some cash flow planning and check the box for laddering.
The prudent thing to do right now is to pull your money out of your regional bank and move it to a GSIB and call it a day. This endangers regional banks and concentrates deposits into the large players.
You can stand your moral ground here or you can risk a string of bank runs and systemic collapse. It might not even make a difference anyways with how slow we’ve been to act.
And it's OK even to incur a little bit of risk/uncertainty when doing so.
But this is different from bailing out all the depositors 100%.
If you use multiple banks, you have a higher risk of experiencing a bank failure, but it has less of a consequence on your operations, liquidity, and viability if it should happen.
And there are many others in the same boat.
So if you use IntraFi to place across 10 banks, and you have $10M, maybe you lose $300k.
It is a risk... but there's plenty of ways to lose a few percent of your working capital that are out of your control.
If you want to further reduce the risk, you could do additional things (e.g. buy some T-bills).
Making bad treasury management decisions is not "no fault of their own". If people want to make the case for a taxpayer bailout, they should start with something like, "Look, we know we fucked up by [not paying attention to something important|taking a risk we thought we could get away with|getting high on our own supply], but we're humbly asking for help."
If somebody's house catches fire because they cheaped out on the furnace and the didn't get homeowner's insurance, I'm going to feel bad for them. They have some Kubler-Ross time ahead for sure. But unless they're family, I'm not taking them in.
Inquiry into bank finances, diversification across banks, etc., are all available options. Maintaining large uninsured balances at a single bank without doing those things (or doing the first, but not taking appropriate actions thereafter) is a choice.
I am not opposed to reasonable government action to mitigate ripple-effect harms given the externalities, but the idea that the startups involved have no responsibility here is misguided.
If only we could centralize the investigation of bank finances and judgement of whether they are healthy enough to use into some sort of agency, staffed by domain experts, with the power to demand relevant documents and shut down unhealthy banks. Nah, that would never work, let's just make it the depositors' responsibility.
Maybe building an entire society on a drastically slanted gap between the wealthiest and the least wealthy is actually super unstable and prone to failure?
Absolutely. What's surprising to me is the absolute lack of that nuance on HN. It's all just BURN IT ALL TO THE GROUND over the last few days.
And it's not clear to me that other banks would be excited to pay higher insurance premiums to bail out Silicon Valley Bank's customers here. If you see something otherwise, please let me know.
The true reality of the situation is that these people lent their money to the bank. To bail them out is equivalent to bailing out shareholders.
Not to mention that depositors can get their money back without taxpayer money being used. That’s the whole point of the FDIC stepping in. SVB’s assets have value and can be used to give money back; if another bank buys SVB, odds are depositors will get the vast majority of their money back. It’s not a bailout if the government is not spending money and I don’t know why even a positive, non-bailout outcome seems to be viewed unfavorably.
Absolute bullshit. If that was the goal, banks would be 100% solvent at all times. Every single dollar people ever deposited in the bank would be sitting there in the bank's safe.
That's NOT what happens in practice. Banks simply cannot bear to watch a huge pile of money just sitting there safely doing nothing. So they do fractional reserve banking. People deposit 100 dollars at the bank, the bank stores like 10 dollars only and then loans out 90 dollars to anyone in need of cash. Then the bank literally lies to people's faces when they provide a statement saying they have $100 in their "account" when in fact they only have 10 dollars with $90 being tied up in outstanding liabilities and therefore exposing them to risk.
Anyone who "deposits" money at a bank without expecting profits in return has been fooled twice. Thrice if they tolerate "administrative fees" for the "service".
> And do you really expect, and want to live in a world where there is such an expectation (due to unreliable financial institutions), the average startup founder to spend time hedging bank risk?
Looks like we live in such a world already.
But perhaps this is a learning opportunity for me. I’m sure you have a stash of money somewhere for paying bills; obviously you need relatively quick access to this stash. You probably also have a larger stash as an emergency fund, which doesn’t need to be as immediately accessible but still needs relatively quick access (so a CD won’t cut it). Where are you putting these stashes? (I guess your personal stashes might be small enough to be FDIC insured, so maybe pretend to be a small startup with a couple millions in cash.)
And regarding your point on banks hating to sit on money - they have to make money somehow as they have bills to pay. They can either charge a fee to hold your money or try to make money off deposits. The latter is obviously riskier, but the former is on average worse for consumers (they lose money by having money..?). If you would rather not pay money to have someone hold it for you, fractional reserves are a necessary construct.
> Looks like we live in such a world already
Not if the FDIC successfully makes everyone whole without spending taxpayer money! Which, again, seems like a positive outcome no one should be rooting against.
> If you ask someone why they have a bank account, odds are the answer is not “to make money”
> They do it because it’s commonly held financial advice that this is better than putting cash in a box under their mattress (not just for returns, but for safety and ease of access).
Well, that's the problem. People actually believe this "your money is safe at the bank" common sense. Tell them otherwise and they treat you like you're one of those tinfoil hat crazies. Maybe they'll believe otherwise when the banks fail and their money is lost.
> It is not fair to lump these people in with shareholders, in terms of profit expectation, and say they have just as little right to their money back.
Sure it is. They loaned their money to the bank. They exposed themselves to the risk that the loan would not be paid back. That they were ignorant of what they were doing does not somehow excuse them of their culpability.
> I’m sure you have a stash of money somewhere for paying bills
I have exactly $0 in my personal checking account. All expenses are paid with credit. Then I pay the bank off in full the second money enters my account. Any and all remainders are immediately invested until $0 remains.
> You probably also have a larger stash as an emergency fund, which doesn’t need to be as immediately accessible but still needs relatively quick access (so a CD won’t cut it).
My emergency fund is about the only thing I keep in a bank account long term. In several liquid investment accounts in different banks. With full knowledge these banks could flop at any moment.
> I guess your personal stashes might be small enough to be FDIC insured, so maybe pretend to be a small startup with a couple millions in cash.
In my country, bank accounts are insured up to some amount per bank per our social security number equivalent. Therefore, when that amount is exceeded, I spread them over multiple banks. If money accumulates to the point I can buy real property, I immediately do so instead of leaving it at the bank.
It's a pretty simple algorithm.
> And regarding your point on banks hating to sit on money - they have to make money somehow as they have bills to pay.
Or they could charge you for the storage service instead. Maybe if banks were in the storage business it'd actually make sense to pay them a single cent in fees. They're not, so it doesn't.
> Not if the FDIC successfully makes everyone whole without spending taxpayer money! Which, again, seems like a positive outcome no one should be rooting against.
Yeah, and everyone just keeps on believing in banks. Positive outcome for them, not for society as a whole.
I think from your POV that banks are horrible, thinking that even depositors should lose their money is in fact a defensible argument. So I concede that your view is one I can respect despite disagreeing.
But in my view, banks are a useful fiction because of the utility they provide (specifically easy storage of and convenient access to money). Even if a person can buy property to reduce bank risk (again, a super inconvenient workaround!), I’m not sure I want _businesses_ to be doing so, especially in light of the likely resulting impact on property values. I acknowledge a system relying on banks indeed has risks, but to me that’s a stronger argument for better regulations and protections to mitigate the risks than it is an argument to dissolve the system and lose its benefits.
Real property solves that problem best. The criminal can't take you to the government office with a gun to your head and force you to sign over the property to him. Property is also what capitalism is all about: actually owning stuff. Engaging in it keeps the fabled "you'll own nothing" dystopia at bay.
I make it a point not to differentiate between the two. Bailing out a bank's customers is bailing out the bank. By all means, liquidate the bank and distribute that cash. People are already commenting down below that it might not be enough. If it's not enough, tough. They made a bet and they lost. Consider not using a bank next time.
People love tearing others down. This is the rule.
People are reaching their limits.
This one, AFAICT, happened because the government greatly restricted what banks could do with their funds. One of the only options available in large volumes is a government instrument subject to risk from the Fed raising rates rapidly.
> Why are executives not being put in prison for ruining so many lives ?
I hope people only get put in prison for breaking actual laws. And if the SVB execs broke laws then yes, they should go to prison. But I haven't heard it alleged by anyone that they have.
So the solution to just let banks do whatever they want? A bank that is prevented from taking excessively risky action becomes insolvent, and your answer is to allow them to take even more risk? The Fed has been signaling for a year that rates are going to keep rising, it is eminently predicable what that means to professionals in the industry. Hubris at its best. Have you even heard of Glass–Steagall, or have a basic understanding of the last 100 years of economic theory?
> I hope people only get put in prison for breaking actual laws. And if the SVB execs broke laws then yes, they should go to prison. But I haven't heard it alleged by anyone that they have.
A laughably naïve thing to say in more than a few ways.
The media is literally competitor in the attention economy, of course they will attack their biggest foes.
They're just trying to help you overcome your shackles of dependence on the sweet teat of Uncle Sam. Get some bootstraps and climb out of this hole on your own merit!
There was a time when tech did seem like a better business movement. Certainly better than the financial sectors, or heavy industry, or pharma. But then we let Thiel and Musk become the face, with Sachs and Calacsnais (or however you spell his name) become their media toadies, and we got fucked on the PR front.
We need to reject these guys a bit harder. Thiel's bank run was unnecessary. He should have picked up the phone and got the numbers from SVB instead of destroying an institution that's so helpful for small founders. Founders are now more dependent on Thiel and his ilk, and less independent.
But what do I know, I'm just a nobody in the space! Others who have more power, wealth, and wisdom will be able to handle this better. (And I should point out that I don't absolve SVB of their errors here either, it's just that I think their errors are more about miscommunication about a bad situation of their own doing that had a clear solution ).
> Silicon Valley law firms are now making lists of individuals who resigned from boards last week, because they didn’t want to get stuck with the liability, and VCs who catalyzed SVB’s bank run, so they can advise clients to never do business with those people/firms again
The difference is that some of the libertarians are very noisy about their politics, whereas most people in tech don't make that much public noise about politics.
When you combine that dynamic with The NY Times deciding that it has to denigrate tech as an industry and take it down a few pegs (a literal mandate from their editors!), the jerks gain prominence, and tech looks the worse for it. And I would say that the PayPal mafia's sins aren't so much being libertarian as just being awful people that are super easy to hate. For example, musk calling that one guy a pedo, or taking pleasure in firing people.
This assholery has now become synonymous with tech, but it is completely counter to my experiences in tech, but maybe I've just been lucky.
Sacks is spelled with a CK.
“Sustainable” businesses are not how American economy differentiates itself in the world, what you’re asking for is to crush the way of life yourself used to in America, to make your own life substantially worse.
It’s nonsensical, bitter, and petty. If that’s the argument you want to make, grow up.
It turns out, you can experience the downside of risk.
Maybe they wasted investor money on salaries. Oh no!
And certainly no reason to steal the money they didn't waste.
Second of all, the purpose of having a limit to FDIC insured deposits is to limit the government's liability in case of bank failures to small-ish depositors. A company thag has millions of dollars to deposit also has more responsibility to evaluate the bank they are depositing in. Perhaps they shouldn't keep money in the bank in the first place, but find other uses for them.
Note that the true FDIC insurance limit is much larger than the 250k that usually gets cited - since there are various facilities for business accounts which can take that up to a million $ or more (multiple signers on the same account, multiple types of accounts). Should be plenty for most startups to pay their employees' salary outright, even without going bankrupt.
> Perhaps they shouldn't keep money in the bank in the first place, but find other uses for them.
I work at a small startup that's raised five million dollars. Not a huge amount of money, but obviously losing all but 250k would be extremely damaging. You're talking about concepts of fiscal responsibility here, but then you're suggesting that businesses should deploy virtually all of their cash and keeping close to nothing in reserve. Our founders are extremely fiscally prudent and purposely keep a very low burn rate, which is exactly why that money is in the bank instead of being used elsewhere.
If you were to lose your job, there is a standardized insurance that kicks in that all Americans get.
You are demanding special, better treatment at the tax payers expense.
Look, everyone on this forum is going to be affected by this. I myself was laid off a few weeks ago due to the tech bubble.
It's still not right to demand other people's money and act entitled. We all get it's hard out there right now.
Ignoring the fact that millions of Americans literally have this, the taxpayers are on the hook for zero percent of the depositor restorations in SVB.
The actual question is should tax payers give a company that has ~4.5 million in cash and is worth some multiple of that some free money? And that should be an emphatic no.
You should question why $5mn was kept in a normal bank (with an unusual customer profile) rather than being placed in money market funds etc., or why the company didn’t insure the funds above $250,000
I just think that if we look at it from the big picture - what's best for the country/society/etc. - that we're collectively much better off if a business that puts its money into a decades-old, reputable financial institution can count on it being there the next week.
(Also I do feel like I should clarify that I'm using my company as a kind of general example... I have no idea where our money is stored and I'm on paternity leave at the moment so just going to hang out with my new kid and hope this all works out).
No, that's silly, and it's not standard practice for a business to have more than 1-2 accounts per country. Anyone here claiming their companies actually did that is just trying to earn internet points for something they didn't actually do.
It's absolutely not believable that guys on here are claiming that they founded "multiple startups" and had 10-20 bank accounts (or more) because they were hedging the risk of bank failure. It would be like someone saying they had 10-20 computers at home because they were worried about their CPU failing. It's so remote a risk that it's not something you fuck up your finances to hedge.
A finance dept is absolutely not going to put up with the BS and hassle associated with maintaining more than 3-4 active bank accounts (checkings, savings, and one or two interest-earning accounts such as a cash sweep that might not be covered by FDIC insurance), because there is a large time and financial cost to constantly moving money around to pay the bills. This practice also replaces the extremely small risk of bank failure with the much greater risk of embezzlement, misplaced funds, delinquent payables, and lost receivables.
The only way to safely store money in excess of the $250k threshold is through government bonds, with the selection of terms based on the forecasted liquidity needs of the business. The other options suggested here (like sweep accounts) aren't any better than FDIC-insured accounts, because in most cases the alternatives aren't insured at all.
SVB is no doubt popular, but YC makes no recommendations on any banks whatsoever in my experience
Lets take it another way. Why not limit FDIC insurance such that its harder to stack them and derive more benefit?
But that's not what people here are suggesting. People are suggesting to divide the funds so that it's all covered. That it was irresponsible of companies NOT to do that and hence they deserve not to get the full deposit amount back.
EDIT: yes it'll cost more money to split today. But it's a waste. The extra cost doesn't go to the FDIC or tax payers, it just goes to a middleman. So then why not just raise the FDIC limit? (or change the rules so you can't split it)
Instead of 3 people holding 1 account each at 1 bank with 750k, now I have 3 people holding 250k at 3 banks. Per bank it’s still 750k.
Id rather be in a world where businesses don’t have to spend so much time playing games with their bank accounts and just trust that their money is safe, which is why the fdic needs to guarantee the deposits.
Companies RAID-stripe the data on their hard drives, they can pay somebody to spread the risk in their finances.
(At a certain scale this eventually becomes inevitable. Google actually has a huge real estate and finances arm precisely because they have the kind of money pool that is impacted by things like nation-state failure and changes to the tax code in 50 states).
There are many many banks that offer this . It doesn't even have to be a TBTF Bank
Infact, SVB itself offered and those funds are protected
What about my cash sweep account?
So, here’s the good thing about the cash sweep account: the assets held in the cash sweep account aren’t bank deposits or on SVB’s balance sheet—they’re held by a third-party custodian. So our understanding is you should be able to recover 100% of the funds there, regardless of what happens to the uninsured deposits at SVB.
No. I said that putting all the money in one bank account is not extremely prudent, which seems obvious given the circumstances.
I'm pretty sure that there are individuals paying attention to this, so I don't think it's too weird to ask businesses to do so as well.
Well no, if all your deposits are below the 250k fully insured limit, then you don't have to worry about the banks collapsing.
But there is also a risk question that companies are responsible for that I see is glossed over. No, you shouldn’t have to spread your business accounts to limit them to 250k. But you must know it’s not insured above this, just like a money market account is not a guaranteed rate of return or even guaranteed against capital loss.
I’m just spitballing, but for example what was the rate on a “money market” checking at SVB versus other larger national banks? If it was much higher, it immediately indicates higher risk in a business checking account at SVB to get those rates. You can see this way back with the old junk bond / Lincoln Savings fiasco of the 1980s, or with 2008 MBS, or CD accounts in early 2000s.
Investor not founder.
Or, just like when the market tanks, you suck it up and get back 80% of your capital on deposit because you couldn’t foresee a money market checking account could lose capital even though it’s spelled out on EVERY SINGLE statement and offering letter from the bank.
Up to $250k per account holder per bank.
Most banks with a large retail deposit base are immune from bank runs. SVB is unique in that it didn’t have a large retail deposit base yet also had a bimodal customer distribution (financially sophisticated VCs and later-stage startups/enterprises and early stage startups which have the financial sophistication of your local auto mechanic).
No acquiring bank will want to touch SVB because of its lack of retail deposits - the risk of account holders fleeing at the earliest opportunity is very high. That forecloses one of the FDIC’s main tools for resolving a bank collapse - especially one of this magnitude.
So we have a very unique situation here: a large mostly commercial bank that, unlike most large commercial banks, has a bunch of mom-and-pop level customers.
I don’t know what the solution is, but hopefully it will go in the direction of minimizing impact on these small businesses.
It's even more of a threat if the whole sector you're employed in suffers simultaneously, as it becomes difficult to continue to be employed in that sector.
Why should you get my money?
(In the case of the company I worked for which went bankrupt — we were a fintech startup with a truly innovative and fantastic product. Our management made three bad decisions which led to our demise. Two were technical and would have been recoverable, the last was a strategic move which ultimately proved disastrous.)
This is no different. For example, how many business checking accounts are backed by money market funds to get a little interest on them? Clearly states in offerings that rates aren’t guaranteed and you could even lose capital. Same with the $250k FDIC limit - clear risk with zero forethought from these employers of hedging it with lines of credit, payroll/business continuity insurance, etc.
Those are things “slow” companies do, not move fast and break things companies do (sarcasm intended - I have worked in R&D in both types multiple times).
Are you truly proposing that every time a bank fails we make everyone who kept money there take the hit?
A return to the 1920s, eh?
I also think that similar to "FDIC insured" labels in bank branches, FDIC should require posting "13% of deposits are FDIC insured" to help assess risk for those clients that have uninsured funds.
Why is the government involved beyond that limit in this case? Could it be they want to give the average person peace of mind while retaining the flexibility to handle a restructuring however they deem best?
No need to prop up the middlemen with free insurance.
I don't really see the big problem here.
Svb still has substantial assets. In the coming weeks, they will be sold and solid portions of the money returned. If companies have to temporarily furlough people, they will still get a reasonable wage that most Americans live on.
Taxpayer funded insurance.
What I wonder here is how many SV CEOs and VC partners are down with Biden's proposed hike on the capital gains tax rate.
> The DIF is funded mainly through quarterly assessments on insured banks. A bank's assessment is calculated by multiplying its assessment rate by its assessment base. A bank's assessment base and assessment rate are determined and paid each quarter.
Subsidize my class on the backs of the underclass.
Let's solve the wealth inequality gap with more wealth inequality.
When depositors lose their savings through no fault of their own the whole system comes crashing down. That won’t help blue collar workers.
If this were 2015 I would agree. But it's 2023 and thousands of software engineers are already struggling to find work after layoffs. Companies shutting down en masse because of SVB will soften what is already an employer's market for talent.
This may hurt specific founders and VCs a lot, but total damages (in the form of a softer market for engineers) may hurt the average employee more, even if they aren't directly affected.
If this is the position you want to take, that's fine, but you need to own the consequences of that position. The point of the FDIC is that you don't have to worry about the credit-worthiness of your bank before deciding to do business with them. If that's not true anymore, then I'm pulling every dollar out of my local bank and giving it all to Goldman Sachs. Everyone else will do the same, and now you've destroyed small regional banks and make the biggest ones even bigger and more powerful. Was that worth it to "own the techbros"?
Banks are inherently vulnerable to bank runs, because they work with money across different time intervals. For example, a hypothetical small town bank might turn checking and savings accounts into mortgages. If everyone decides to withdraw their savings all at once, the bank can't call all the mortgages due. So if everyone panics all at once, banks will fail. So we try to regulate the risks taken by banks, and we provide government-backed insurance. To be honest, the last-ditch "insurance" behind most banks is sovereign power.
It has been a long time since companies have lost money in bank failures. Everyone has gotten complacent.
The failure of SVB means that a great many people are suddenly seeing new risks. Come Monday, I expect to see lots of companies moving funds. And lots of banks hold government bonds that have fallen substantially in value because of the rapid changes in interest rates.
I will be very happy if we get out of this with few bank failures.
Corporations have always split their cash into cash and "almost-cash-equivalent" liquid assets (like Treasury Bills). E.g. one can read any random 10-k corporate filing and there will be a line item for short term assets like "T-bills" because companies like to earn interest on their excess cash. The corporate treasurer is responsible for managing that mix.
But a company still needs working cash in the bank account for payroll and to pay vendors. The smaller startups may have not have enough excess cash to bother with splitting some of it into T-bills.
I also don't understand this. Why can't the working cash be a loan from the bank secured on the T-Bills? Then the depositor bears essentially no risk because they have no net balance with the bank. Essentially, why can't companies' working cash be overdraft? That way it's the bank that bears the risk rather than the companies. That's the whole point of the bank!
I guess one downside is that the bank will apply higher funding charges for that kind of arrangement. Well, the depositors should suck it up. You have to pay a price for resilience.
I guess there are other fine points of corporate finance that I have yet to grasp, but I'm learning a lot from the comments on HN. Thanks for your reply.
But notice that it's not in the bank's interest to provide them or push them if they do. They would rather you trust them and provide them the cheap float.
Perhaps some near-fraudulent collusion between SVB, VCs and the executives of the banked startups then ...
Less so the executives, who probably did largely as their investors advise. Their individual business probably isn't that important on its own.
It's the VC partner who sees to it that 10 portfolio companies a year drop their capital raise into cheap deposits who really mattered.
the issue is that startup founders might have a lot of implied wealth based on the equity they hold and money raised but a "mainstream" bank is going to look at that equity, assess it as non-liquid and highly speculative and reject any loan applications
svb was more likely to extend personal loans to startup founders because -- in theory at least -- they better understood startup finance and they were incentivized to provide good service to prospective customers of their more business focused activities
But banks have more deposits than loans even now. Because they need to get money from somewhere.
(Honest question, I'm curious.)
As far as I can see the banking system in aggregate has more deposits than loans:
The original question I was trying to answer was "If everyone gets cash from loans, who'll be the depositors putting cash in the bank to be loaned?". I just don't think that question is well-posed. A bank creating a loan requires new cash deposits of only R x loan_amount, where R is the reserve requirement. For making payroll this ought to be almost nothing.
Ok. That would be reserves. But it's not like some deposits are backed and others are not (leaving aside the existence of different kinds of deposits) - what you have is a total amount of deposits and a total amount of reserves.
Loans create deposits, not the other way.
In fact the problem of the US banking system in the last years has been that deposits have been increasing much faster than loans.
In relative terms yes, in absolute terms, they'd be lower.
> the problem of the US banking system in the last years has been that deposits have been increasing much faster than loans
Yes, it seems to be. "Too much money chasing too few returns", as they say.
Not really. The Loan-to-Deposit ratio is usually lower than one so if both double that means that deposits grow more than loans in absolute terms.
I owe vendor $100k. I transfer $100k of T-bills. They are paid cash equivalent, no?
The obvious thing that comes to mind is I am guessing there is some lockup of those t-bills maturing? Wouldn't this make sense for the Fed (Or some government entity) to be the broker+last resort to allow conversion of t-bill to someone else at a cost of breaking the term?
Even though the t-bill itself would still exist until maturity on the Fed's side and now company A is able to always guarantee payment transfer.
In all seriousness, you don't want small and mid-sized companies having to think about managing their cash. They have better things to be doing.
I managed cash flow of my business through 2008. I worked through the recessions in the 90s and 2000s. When I was young, I worked for an employer who had seen banks fail in the Great Depression. He taught me not to trust a single bank. Nobody should.
Yeah, it would be nice if we had a well regulated financial system.
(EDIT - see replies below for why it is not)
T-Bills are different than T-Bonds. T-Bills mature in weeks up to 1 year (4, 8, 13, 26, 52 week terms). They're a good way to assign your money you can't risk (like next month's payroll) while still earning interest on it and having access to it when you need it.
Anybody with more than $5 million in the bank should have someone dedicated to managing that money. If you don’t, then you’re not running a business properly. Startups like to skimp on important things like that and they shouldn’t. Any CFO with basic skills should be doing or arranging this depending on the size of the company. That’s literally their job.
It’s simply poor money management by the employer to assume you can toss $1M-$5M in a business checking account and have zero risk. It’s not a personal account and it is clearly over the FDIC limits.
Anyone with $250K net worth knows there is risk here. Even my 80+ mother who is NOT finance savvy knows about this $250k limit and manages her life savings in different money market accounts to limit her exposure.
Every payday I come down and they shell it out and put it in my hand.
Then a disgruntled but genius employee comes up with a crazy heist scheme and I get caught in the middle of it getting my pay one payday.
Spoken like someone who has no experience with bankruptcy. The rule of thumb used to explain this to an unsecured creditors, before this happens, is -- dude, you might get 10 cents on the dollar. Employees are rarely made completely whole.
> as debts to workers are the highest priority in any bankruptcy case
Secured creditors have to get paid first. Then after quite a few other priority claims (attorneys, trustees must be paid, domestic support, etc.) employees are paid.
If the company you work for suddenly goes bankrupt, you're much more concerned about finding yourself unemployed in a not-great tech job market than collecting your last paycheck.
Don't forget how systemic this is. If your company goes bankrupt, it's likely a lot of similar tech companies also went bankrupt.
No idea what's going to happen with insurance since some people were expecting
I'm generally treating it as being laid off with no severance and looking elsewhere
Plenty of firms will buy the uninsured deposit claims at a discount. Taking the haircut to make essential payments is worth avoiding disruption.
Cynicism reigns supreme on social media right now, and HN comments are a type of social media.
There is also a deeply engrained “us versus them” mentality baked into a lot of the anger. The SVB scenario has more people identifying the “us” part as taxpayers (who would presumably foot the bill for backstopping losses) and the “them” part as VCs and investors.
Interestingly, if this was rephrased as an “Ask HN” post where someone was concerned about their next paycheck because their startup’s bank failed, I suspect the sentiment would be completely reversed. The more relatable the story, the kinder the comments.
“Well-reputed bank” is not the same as zero risk money management. Look at the fine print of every one of those business checking accounts and you see there is clearly some risk, including loss of capital if you’re over the $250k limit. Everyone who has a retirement account in money markets at a “well-reputed bank” knows about this risk, so how can we let the CFO slide on finance risk management that was clearly their most important responsibility? Business continuity insurance, lines of credit, investor infusion, etc. Debt sales, etc. There are ways to get around an unexpected cash crunch.
But there’s no excuse for not knowing the risk and expecting a $1M checking account to work like your personal checking account. This was the CFOs job at every one of the companies that is now in a crunch.
Lest we forget that even TARP was actually a net profit for taxpayers.
† (50% of which is outside the of the US, and a majority of which is people who don't work for "big tech", which ironically isn't much at all directly impacted by SVB)
One, anybody with a bank account has heard about the FDIC and the FDIC insurance limits. Presumably anybody smart enough to raise millions of dollars know that if part of something is insured, the rest is uninsured. There are in fact good systemic reasons both for the FDIC to exist and for the limit to be high for individuals but low for companies.
Two, the tech industry, especially the VC-funded end, is forever crowing about the power of the marketplace. How regulation stifles valuable innovation. How government intervention is a problem, not a solution.
Three, among startups, market-driven disruption is practically a religion. Startups destroy existing companies all the time. Quite often it's an explicit goal, where startup X lists existing players A and B as companies whose lunches will get eaten because they are making bad choices.
Four, there has been endless puffery and chest-thumping among VCs and tech startups how their genius justifies pocketing billions and billions of dollars when times are good. Best and brightest, incredibly hard workers, blah blah blah. Including a special tax exemption for VCs, because they're just such amazing financial wizards.
Five, startup go under all the time. Which, having experienced it, definitely sucks. But when a startup goes under due to bad choices or bad luck, that's the game.
So when I put this together, I firmly believe that startups with bad treasury management should not be subsidized by taxpayers. If we're so smart and amazing that we get to reshape segments of the economy, we're smart enough to follow basic financial advice like "don't put all your eggs in one basket". If we choose to play the game that might make us rich, we should not suddenly complain about the rules when we lose.
In practice, the likely outcome here is that depositors either take no haircut or a modest one. Anybody going out of business because of that was already on the edge. And that will be partly because their investors will not see them as worthy of a bridge loan or an accelerated next round.
Which, again, sucks for the people involved. But it's not a problem for taxpayers to solve. If we're going to spend billions of dollars on improving the safety net, I think startups are way, way down the list of priorities.
When you find yourself cheering for collective punishment you should know that you are absolutely the bad guy.
Can capitalism be pretty harsh on workers? Sure. 1-2 million people get laid off or let go every month, and it's been that way for a long time: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/JTSLDL
Does that suck? Speaking from experience, yes. Should the federal government subsidize startups and/or their funders to save a few thousand jobs? Absolutely not.
If we want to spend billions on a better social safety net, let's do it for everybody, not some unprofitable companies whose investors don't see them as worth saving.
Why not? It’s like fundamental…
There are lots of ways for a startup to die. If you have $2m cash do you really want to manage (2/0.25) bank accounts, adopt all that administrative overhead, just to reduce your probability of death by bank failure, when possibly the added overhead may increase your overall probability of death because now you are distracted and unfocused on the things that are far more likely to kill you?
> If we're going to spend billions of dollars on improving the safety net, I think startups are way, way down the list of priorities.
This is first order thinking which increases systemic risk by undermining trust. The probability of future bank runs goes up.
> Three, among startups, market-driven disruption is practically a religion. Startups destroy existing companies all the time. Quite often it's an explicit goal, where startup X lists existing players A and B as companies whose lunches will get eaten because they are making bad choices. > Four, there has been endless puffery and chest-thumping among VCs and tech startups how their genius justifies pocketing billions and billions of dollars when times are good. Best and brightest, incredibly hard workers, blah blah blah. Including a special tax exemption for VCs, because they're just such amazing financial wizards.
You're making broad generalizations about a large group of heterogeneous agents. You're also using language that's full of moral judgement (revenge, disgust) instead of focusing on stuff that matters to the economy or to everyday people.
> But it's not a problem for taxpayers to solve.
Why not? Taxpayers exist to fund things that are thought to be in the public good. And isn't it a lack of imagination to think that taxpayers are the only way to solve this? What about clawback of executive compensation or shareholder dividends?
If startups want to take on bank risk, great. If they don't, also great, and there are many ways for them to do that. They are allowed to manage their risks as they see fit. If they can't, that is not a problem for taxpayers to solve. I get why some people here are pitching "socialism, but only for would-be billionaires", but I promise it's not a winning proposition in the wider world.
You haven't made the case that the cost doesn't justify the reduction in systemic risk, let alone the immediate economic fallout of otherwise good businesses going bust. To make that case you would first have to outline what the cost would be, then you would have to explain why that cost is too high relative to the benefit. Both of those steps are missing in your argument. No attempt has been made to quantify the cost or the benefit.
So far it sounds like a moral judgment. They made a mistake (in your opinion), they as a group have tended to be be arrogant, therefore they deserve to suffer the consequences. I don't care for moral judgments, they are uninteresting. Explain it in terms of costs and benefits to the economy and to people.
If people want to argue for infinite free deposit insurance for the rich, they're the ones who need to make the case that the increase in moral hazard and increased taxpayer burden is worth if for the public to take on.
But if there's some sort of support-the-businesses goal in here, I think it's better to just argue for a government corporation that's a non-profit deposit-only bank that takes no risk and pays no interest. Then, if you're correct that there are a large number of safety-seeking people with millions in cash who just want to focus on entrepreneuring, they'll have an option that has zero failure risk.
I expect if we created that, though, it would see very little use, because people are happy to take risks when they think they can get away with them. And quite a large number of people are apparently also willing to ask Uncle Sugar for a bailout when their gamble doesn't come up like they wanted.
Only if you go by common wisdom pre-Great Depression, which helped cause the Great Depression. But the opposite lessons have been learned since. That's why the FDIC was created in the aftermath of the Great Depression. It's the basis of the Nobel Prize winning Diamond–Dybvig model which inspired the TARP in the GFC which actually returned a profit to taxpayers. If depositors have too much skin in the game, it creates the potential for a bank run, which benefits nobody and harms everybody.
> increase in moral hazard
Which is where regulations need to come in. That's the bargain. You get FDIC guarantees, and I get to regulate you. It's a better bargain than the old wild west of bank runs and financial collapse.
Anyway, depositors as agents aren't good mediators of a bank's risk. There are too many informational asymmetries for that to be a good mechanism to rely on.
If the rich really want a risk-free bank, I'm all for the government creating one. No loans, no interest, no profit, just deposits and withdrawals, unlimited guarantee.
But I expect that won't happen, because the rich don't actually want pure safety. They want to privatize the gains from risk and socialize the losses. And the more they come to think that's achievable by, say, hysterically encouraging bank panics, the more we'll suffer for it.
The moral hazard that the GFC bailouts created mostly pertained to bailing out shareholders and executives, not bailing out depositors. Let's be careful to make this distinction.
There is some marginal added moral hazard from guaranteeing deposits, you are correct, but I believe this should be counteracted by regulation, executive compensation clawback laws, etc. We have learned from the Great Depression, the GFC, Diamond-Dybvig, that the systemic risk of bank runs isn't worth the marginal reduction in moral hazard from not guaranteeing deposits. If you don't have trust and confidence among people (and businesses, not just the "rich" in the abstract) that their money is safe in a bank, then all you need is social media panic and you can cause a financial crisis for no reason. This is a risk especially now in the age of social media.
The $250k amount was implemented because they thought it was enough to stop these kind of bank runs. After what we saw with SVB, we need to update our model of reality. $250k was proven to not be enough.
Taxpayers won't pay for anything. If there are any losses, it'll be socialized amongst other banks. I don't see the issue. The alternative of risking more bank runs seems a lot worse.
Socializing the losses among other banks is not getting paid directly by taxpayers, but the money comes from somewhere. Making good banks cover bad banks just creates new moral hazard.
The basic notion of our current system is that for-profit banking is a generally good business and that we just need to limit systemic risk. Your thesis is apparently that for-profit banking is essentially unsound. That's not an argument for a bit of fiddling with the regulations. It's an argument to end for-profit banking.
Which, personally, I'm all for. Many people are claiming they just want their bank to be a utility, a magic mattress to stuff their money in. In which case, let's make banking deeply boring, and put the hundreds of billions per year in profits to better societal use.
This misses something crucial. Socializing the losses among banks reduces the incentive for the industry to pursue lobbying efforts that are misaligned with the general public. It also directly refutes the wrong narrative that has been floating around that it's going to be poor little taxpayers bailing out the fatcats yet again.
> Your thesis is apparently that for-profit banking is essentially unsound. That's not an argument for a bit of fiddling with the regulations. It's an argument to end for-profit banking.
I disagree. Many industries need active government involvement to align them with the public good. Absent regulations and oversight, factories would be dumping waste in the street and rivers. Are factories "essentially unsound"? Just because we need government involvement to remove the "essential unsoundness" of factories, doesn't mean that I think it would be good for all factories to be shut down.
If you eliminate the FDIC, guess what, banks will still be profitable, just like they were in the 19th century, and just like factories would be profitable if we eliminated all environmental oversight. Only we'll get a terrible financial crisis every so often.
> So yes, let's stick with "the rich" as the group of interest.
Let's not. If we are talking about systemic risk and economic contagion, using the word "businesses" is better because it makes it clear what would happen if we follow your prescription. If we use the word "rich" (which many would assume to mean "rich individuals" since that's the context this word is often used in), we're playing rhetorical hide the ball with the consequences.
That's not true. Individual banks will push for lower regulations because their execs want a chance at fat profits that they get to take a slice of. Just like SVB did.
>It also directly refutes the wrong narrative that has been floating around that it's going to be poor little taxpayers bailing out the fatcats yet again.
It does not.
Here the taxpayers are not directly bailing out anybody. But they are backstopping it, and have increased the risk they will have to to directly pay in the future. And they are indirectly doing so, because anybody with a bank account, which is basically everybody, is going to be paying more for loans or getting less in interest. If you'd like to hear an actual banker explain that, last night's Marketplace had a segment talking with a regional bank CEO where she talks about why she's not happy with having to pay for somebody else's losses.
HN comment quality, thoughtfulness, and etc seems to drop off with higher visibility…. and sadly generally too.
The more visible the more comments resemble Reddit or the god awful knee jerk hot takes you get in local newspaper comment sections :(
It’s a bummer as I’ve enjoyed the generally high comment quality on HN for a long time.
Anyway, the fact that the top-voted comment now complains about the low quality of answers shows that moderation + voting still help.
I think the demographics are changing, more so in higher visibility articles, but generally too.
I think the best part about HN has always been the comments discipline. People generally only respond when they have some knowledge (not just “I watched a YouTube video).
That has faded sadly.
HN has been around awhile and has been a hotbed of the same starry-eyed startup dream for a couple generations of young people getting on the carousel now, so I guess I'm not terribly surprised if the attitude "welcome to the club, we would print you a t-shirt but our printer startup went out of business" shows up around these parts from the folk who have been on the ride awhile.
There are a lot of folks who read HN who had their dream crushed for a lot stupider reasons.
ETA: that is something I'd like to see more of here though. There's a lot of folks who have been through a bust cycle and survived it and even stayed in the industry. What kept you going? How did you come out the other side? Was it as scary as it feels when you haven't done it before?
Spoiler alert (18:30): It was entrepreneurship that turned the economy around. Not fed policy.
SVB put their deposits in US Treasury Bonds. Commonly regarded as the safest investment vehicle there is. Then the fed raised interest rates, completely screwing over this strategy. Then VCs panicked, like sheep.
So now we're in a situation where the most successful startups in the innovation sector are at risk of being wiped out while the US economy is being guided toward recession to cool inflation. Go watch that talk- then tell me you really think its a good idea to let it all burn.
Having said that, I don't think startups will suffer big time - but they were the ones also who created the bankrun fueled by VC panic. However mismanaged SVB was, given enough time they had enough resources to turn this around.
That said, I don’t blame anybody for causing the bank run. If I had a reason to believe that my personal bank might not be able to give me my money if I didn’t get it out right now, there is zero chance that I would leave my money there to vanish just to avoid causing a bank run for other people. Morals break down when my life savings and livelihood are on the line.
Yes, absolutely let it all burn. They risked it all on their "strategy" and lost. Why should they get bailed out in literally any way? I don't see the government showing up to bail me out when my "strategy" gets me liquidated, why the hell do these banks deserve that treatment? Let them face 100% of the consequences of their choices.
The strategy is mandated by regulation post 2008. The mistake svb made was buying 10 year instead of 3 month. Hard to explain that one other than the fed said inflation would be transitory and it wasn’t.
So what you're saying is the bank made investments based on a whole lot of assumptions. These assumptions were quickly invalidated by US policy changes.
The discussion is now about the depositors.
Let them lose too.
What is there to burn? A large bank will likely purchase the assets/debts outright, the shareholders will get screwed, and the depositors likely be made whole. There's no bailout in that scenario
But the contributions to the Fund are all from member banks, not from the Federal budget.
I understand the "difference" fine. I just refuse to believe there actually is a difference. They're all the same to me: people who lent their money to the bank so it could be invested and pay them dividends.
> Unless you just think its peachy that a bunch of businesses lose everything because their bank made some actually not all that risky investments and some people got spooked.
Why, that's exactly what I think. Looks like that "not at all that risky investment" didn't bring the outcome everyone expected. Oops. Looks like the free market screwed them over again. Such is life.
I suppose it's fine if they manage to liquidate the bank's assets and recover some of it. If they really insist on recovering it all, maybe they should liquidate the bank manager's personal property as well. As long as they don't see even one cent of taxpayer money, it's moral.
Removing these ripples brings greater risk, which is artificial stability and moral hazard
And taking your analogy further, show me one body of water in nature that doesn't have ripples and waves on its surface (that vary in magnitude)
Then get yourselves out of this mess.
We are in a pickle I don't think we are ready for what's to come in the future. I feel there will be a lot of pain in the future for the “little guy”
You know what I think? This is just like any other time in history the labor class started getting too big for its britches. We are being told to go back down and stay there.
And that’s a really stark reality now that might change someone peoples support for government.
Such is life in the free market. Looks like the US government disrupted you. Doesn't mean the US taxpayer has to bail you out.
I swear if it was called “generic bank” instead of “Silicon Valley Bank”, we wouldn’t be seeing all of these knee-jerk “good because they’re bad” responses.
Do you have an actual argument that falsifies what I've said? I'm all about owning up to my mistakes but right now I have no reason to believe I'm being stupid. I thought stuff like this was going to happen the second I saw the Fed raising interest rates to combat inflation. Looks like time proved me right.
> A bank is going under and potentially taking a ton of startups with it, not because of any poor decisions or lack of legit business model by the startups. It’s purely due to an internal implementation detail of the (until now) we’ll respected bank that holds their money.
Yeah sure. A "minor implementation detail" of the bank... Honestly, this isn't even the real issue at play here.
It's really simple to me. People put their money in the bank. The bank couldn't bear to watch the pile of money just sitting there. So it "invested" the money. Then it lost the money. Then they went under. Now everybody is losing their minds and the bank is getting liquidated in an attempt to make everybody whole again.
I'm sorry but I just don't feel any sympathy at all. It's not the first time a bank fails but people never learn not to trust them.
> I swear if it was called “generic bank” instead of “Silicon Valley Bank”, we wouldn’t be seeing all of these knee-jerk “good because they’re bad” responses.
Nope. I say the exact same thing every single time some bank-like institution fails: we warned you. When it's some crypto exchange, everybody here on HN gets a kick out of it. Now that it's some startup's bank, I'm supposed to feel sorry for them? No.
There are two key things that I think you're misunderstanding:
1) the bank didn't lose the money. A lot of it is locked up in long-term securities that would have to be sold at a loss to access the money now. But, at maturity, all of the money would be paid back. The money is there, but it's illiquid. A bank with the same investment but more liquid assets would have no problem
2) The investors are going to get screwed, and the depositors will likely be made most of the way whole. This is without a government bailout. Given that the assets are there, I'd be surprised if a big bank didn't gobble them up for the goodwill of future tech unicorns.
I'd be upset if there was an investor bailout. I'd question why we needed a depositor bailout. I don't think either are necessary or going to happen
Also known as being literally insolvent. They can't pay back what they owe. People have bills to pay tomorrow, so nobody really cares that the money is gonna be there 10 years from now. Peopld want their money, and the bank can't pay it back. They might as well have taken the money and thrown it into a black hole.
> 2) The investors are going to get screwed, and the depositors will likely be made most of the way whole. This is without a government bailout. Given that the assets are there, I'd be surprised if a big bank didn't gobble them up for the goodwill of future tech unicorns.
I suppose it's moral as long as not one cent of public money is used to pay anyone off. That includes "backstopping" bank runs or whatever it is the Fed does. That also includes literally any measure that could conceivably increase inflation which is an indirect way of making us all pay for it.
No, insolvency is a legal and accounting term indicating that liabilities exceed assets. If assets and liabilities are equal, but the liquidity of those assets did not match the term of the liabilities., that is illiquidity, not insolvency.
That being said, the CFPI said in its order shutting down SVB that the bank was both illiquid and insolvent so it appears that their assets, even adjusted for value at maturity, were not sufficient to cover liabilities. And that's probably why the banks they reached out to about taking over SVB Thursday night did not.
It entirely depends on the circumstances, and those circumstances are extremely important to this discussion. A bank with sufficient liquidity wouldn't have a solvency issue holding these assets - they would exist and be paid out in time, and nobody would no the difference but the bank's accountants.
That is extremely important because it means the money exists - it was not lost. That makes purchasing SVB viable for a bank that can handle the securities' long maturity. That would not be the case if they head actually lost the money.
> That also includes literally any measure that could conceivably increase inflation which is an indirect way of making us all pay for it.
I would encourage you to read about Spain's economy during the late 1500s. Specifically, why they were advertising across Europe to convince Jews to move to Spain - you'll get to learn why the Jewish banker stereotype exists (racism meets fiscal policy meets religious doctrine) and see an interesting example of how a society changes with proto-moderm banking introduced.
In my experience, most proponents of "inflation is theft" propose financial systems that fail to account for critical problems that were addressed in modern finance so long ago that they've been mostly forgotten
Sounds interesting. Please elaborate on these problems. It's definitely gonna be a lot more interesting than discussing a failed bank.
As far as I'm concerned, the main problem solved by banks is the exponential growth problem. They solve it by providing credit, enabled by depositors. Entire nations and empires were developed by this scheme. Especially in the 1500s, the age of european colonialism.
Doesn't mean it's sustainable.
Lol, fair. In the 1500s, Christians and Muslim were barred from giving loans with usury (interest), so there was no financial incentive to give anyone but friends and family money. The European aristocracy was either Christian or Muslim (Portugal and Spain for a while). Essentially, if you weren't already well connected to the rich, you couldn't access capital.
Jews didn't face the same religious restrictions, and they were barred from many other jobs in society, so they often fell into the role of bankers where they lived (since they could charge interest and make money). These banks facilitated wealth transfers between the wealthy and people with few means and connections. It resulted in economic booms (and there are plenty of legitimate criticisms of exponential growth), but it spread the wealth to people who wouldn't have otherwise had access.
And that's the double edged sword: loans can facilitate wealth transfer from wealthy to folks with limited means, but doing that causes inflation.
Rich people have since found tons of ways to manipulate the system, and we've added layers of regulation that are supposed to make that harder. Some of that has worked, and some of that has failed. But, I do think that inflation is a necessary side effect of preventing capital from being hoarded in walled gardens
> It is obvious that if those rates are low investors will look elsewhere. Startups are one of those elsewheres.
> Now that rates are on the way up, there's no need for investors to risk their money on startups anymore. So startups no longer have one of the pre-conditions for their existence. Namely, free investor money literally pouring in and paying for all their expenses.
Again, some investors won’t spend as much of their money investing in startups. You talk as if it’s just a single on/off switch.
> Such is life in the free market. Looks like the US government disrupted you.
We’re talking about the startups here. The government “disrupted” the bank. And through no fault of their own, the startups get “disrupted” as a second order effect. My main point and the reason that I felt I should respond is this sense that I get from your comment that somehow startups deserved to lose their money because they kept it at the bank. As if that was the morally just conclusion.
> I thought stuff like this was going to happen the second I saw the Fed raising interest rates to combat inflation. Looks like time proved me right.
Yes. Everyone understood that “stuff like this” would happen. I’m positive that you didn’t know that specifically SVB would go under in such fashion. Without using hindsight bias, what should a startup have done with this knowledge that “stuff like this” would happen?
> Yeah sure. A "minor implementation detail" of the bank... Honestly, this isn't even the real issue at play here.
I said “internal” not “minor”. And I mean, yes it is the real issue at play? It’s what caused them to go under? And was absolutely not something that any reasonable person would expect to know about their financial institution…
> It's really simple to me. People put their money in the bank. The bank couldn't bear to watch the pile of money just sitting there. So it "invested" the money. Then it lost the money. Then they went under. Now everybody is losing their minds and the bank is getting liquidated in an attempt to make everybody whole again.
Missing nuance that they invested in something that is seen as about the most safe thing you can invest in, but they DID mess up with the duration. Again, this is something that the bank messed up that no reasonable(non-financial industry) person could have seen coming. Sure, the bank deserves some blame for this, but the people that kept their money there could not have reasonably seen the risk.
> I'm sorry but I just don't feel any sympathy at all. It's not the first time a bank fails but people never learn not to trust them.
“Don’t trust banks”. Ok. Got it. Now what? Without using hindsight bias, what should a startup have done with $10million? Keep it under their mattress? Invest it in something more risky than treasuries?
> Nope. I say the exact same thing every single time some bank-like institution fails: we warned you.
Noted. Now what?
> When it's some crypto exchange, everybody here on HN gets a kick out of it. Now that it's some startup's bank, I'm supposed to feel sorry for them? No.
You’re comparing losing your money by gambling on something with no intrinsic value, in an unregulated market, that was built primarily as a means of subverting oversight, with keeping your money in a highly respected, highly regulated, FDIC insured bank.
That said, I hope people weren’t HAPPY that crypto HOLDERS lost their money.
Same thing. It's still disruption even when it's indirect. Perhaps they should have chosen to minimize their exposure to that risk. For whatever reason, they didn't. Now these are the consequences.
I don't want to hear that they're getting any government help whatsoever. By all means liquidate the bank and then distribute the money. If that's not enough to pay them back... Tough luck.
> My main point and the reason that I felt I should respond is this sense that I get from your comment that somehow startups deserved to lose their money because they kept it at the bank. As if that was the morally just conclusion.
Let me make it clear then: that's exactly what I belive.
Banks are not the "risk free safe haven" people make them out to be. People treating banks like that are a huge problem that I wish would be fixed. One way to fix it is by destroying the illusion that you're "safe" despite all the risks the banks are exposing you to. The easiest way to destroy that illusion is to have people actually lose their money when their bank fails.
Therefore, that's what I wish would happen.
> I’m positive that you didn’t know that specifically SVB would go under in such fashion.
I know with absolute certainty that any given bank could literally flop at any given moment if enough people tried to withdraw their cash at the same time. The only reason why it doesn't happen often in practice is the government will literally print money and "inject liquidity" into them to stop a total economic meltdown from happening. I'd rather they didn't and just allowed banks to fail.
> Without using hindsight bias, what should a startup have done with this knowledge that “stuff like this” would happen?
Not keeping money at the bank would be a start. At least use many independent banks so you're not exposed to the stupidity of any one bank.
> And I mean, yes it is the real issue at play? It’s what caused them to go under?
If we're talking about the bank's failure, yes. It's not relevant at all if we're talking about the startup that relied on the bank to hold their money for them.
> And was absolutely not something that any reasonable person would expect to know about their financial institution…
Well, I sure as hell do expect to know everything my bank is doing. After all, I'm putting my money in there and they're "managing" it. One of my banks sends all clients a detailed written report about their accounts and investments every year. Others don't so I ask the manager what they're doing with my money instead. I will literally pull my money out if I don't like the answer. I've done it more than once.
> Missing nuance that they invested in something that is seen as about the most safe thing you can invest in
That's intentional on my part. What they "thought" or "intended" to happen doesn't matter at all. "Everybody thought" mortgage backed securities were a safe investment back then too and that common sense doesn't count for shit when everyone is getting wiped out.
> no reasonable(non-financial industry) person could have seen coming
> but the people that kept their money there could not have reasonably seen the risk
Sure they could. Literally every bank exposes you to the risk of their fractional reserve banking. The problem is they don't because they don't understand the nature of banks and what they do. People think it's just "their money at the bank".
That's ultimately what I want: for people to start seeing government and bank screwups coming. Telling them does nothing so maybe losing money will.
I think this is the sort of stuff that should be taught to everyone in schools.
> what should a startup have done with $10million?
> Invest it in something more risky than treasuries?
What do you think banks do when you deposit $10M in them?
> You’re comparing losing your money by gambling on something with no intrinsic value, in an unregulated market, that was built primarily as a means of subverting oversight, with keeping your money in a highly respected, highly regulated, FDIC insured bank.
Those two things are pretty much the same scam to me. One is "respected and government backed", the other isn't. Maybe the government should start backing the proto-banks we call exchanges too. Wouldn't that be funny?
> That said, I hope people weren’t HAPPY that crypto HOLDERS lost their money.
Sorry to disappoint you. If you think this comments section is bad, you should see how gleefully the HN folks cheer when the "crypto bros" get fucked by some whale dumping on the market or something.
But reality is SVB isn’t a normal bank and it had the highest percentage of deposited funds that weren’t covered by FDIC amongst US banks
It’s like saying an F1 team will now buy family economy cars to race with since their prices are down now.
You invest in a startup fund for extremely high risk high reward outcomes. You invest in interest rate bonds etc for guaranteed low outcome.
HN has become ridiculous.
I'm just a Regular Joe, and I have saving and chequing accounts at two banks in case there's an account discrepancy / disagreement with one, I still have some funds I can pay bills with until things get sorted out. Stuff happens:
I also have a couple of hundred dollars worth of cash (e.g, in case of power outages).
If you're a multi-million dollar operation, why do you have a single point of failure with regards to finances?
(And this has nothing to do with 'deserve': if you play golf during a thunderstorm, would you be surprised if you got zapped?)
How can we possibly allow the CFO of these companies to get away with not managing finance risk, no matter how small. That was their only job, to manage finance risk. No business continuity insurance? Lines of credit with other banks? Convertible instruments that could be sold on Monday AM to raise cash? So many other ways a CFO can manage cash and risk but did not.
If you're a not-small company (many dozens of people, which a few million in assets), why would you put all your financial eggs in one basket? Even if they're generally well-run, any institution can be hit with 'bad luck' like ransomware by some zero-day.
Just by having (say) one-quarter of your assets at another institution it makes sure you can make payroll and pay your bills for some period of time while things are sorted out at the 'primary'.
On the flip side, I also have worked in startups much of my career, and think I and people like me should be paid for our work. I think we should help the startups out, bail them out, but without helping the VCs. I think what that means is the startups effected should get their money back, but the VC owned shares of the company then become government assets that can be sold in the future to offset the cost of the buyout.
It's simply not right for government money to bail them out, but fornthe VCs to profit from it years from now.
Edited to add:
In the end the point I'm trying to make is that it's not right for us to take money from average non-rich Americans to pay back VCs (rich americans) who gambled their money. If the bailout comes from people that earn more than 500k a year exclusively then I'm all for it. But taking public money that was taken from a single mom who is barely getting by to do so is wrong.
The high risk endeavor does not have anything to do with the bank where you deposit the money raised. Here, it does not matter if the source of money is a VC or another.
I said in my OP that my view is that the startups themselves should be bailed out, saving jobs like yours and mine. The VCs should then forfeit their shares to the US govt, to be sold later, to offset the costs of the bailout.
Putting your startup's funds in a FDIC insured bank isn't exactly "gambling".
If you want something to be justifiably upset about, it's the carried interest loophole.
After 15 years of working in startups in the Bay Area, I've learned they are gambles, not investments.
You're going to shit yourself when you learn who some of the LPs are.
The shareholders should lose all of their investment, that is a no-brainer, but the depositors should not lose 1 penny, and their funds be available on Monday morning.
Here's an overlooked deadline: 6:00 PM EST, that is when Sydney (Australia)'s stock market opens. If that opens a lot lower, it will be the start of a free-fall cascade of stock markets worldwide.
So, we have less than 5 hours as of this writing for an official FDIC/Federal Reserve statement.
Wait for it.
Agreed. Advanced economies work because there are things you can take for granted, and you gain efficiencies from that. There are plenty of countries where the currency collapses every decade and banks don't work well. None one looks up to them, no one aspires to start a business there, and they're not leaders in anything other than maybe a commodity. They're places smart people leave.
I got no dog in this fight(as I'm an Indian, and stay in India). But I guess what they are saying is they don't want to be paying for it. They just want whoever is responsible to make somebody else pay for these problems.
So bailout is ok, they just don't want to pay for it, and may be find other people(VCs, other billionaires) who can invest/bailout that bank on their terms.
I'm in the same position as you but this is a terrible take.
No one thinks we deserve to lose money or jobs.
They simply do not believe that other American taxpayers who likely make less than you should have to spend their hard earned money (or risk having it devalued by printing) in order to bail you out.
And they are broadly correct.
It is wrong to demand other people's money due to your own misfortune, especially when the misfortune is a lost business or job, versus something more existential. The reality is that most tech workers will be fine.
If you want to be paid by the government, you should be aware that salaries are significantly lower, and perks are non-existent.
The government regulates banks and provides deposit insurance to to 250K.
The whole point of deposit insurance is to prevent retail bank runs by the general public.
Beyond that, it is the job of your CFO to manage risks, including the risk bank failure.
The last large wave of bank failures happened barely over a decade ago. These things happen.
Also, it sounds like your company will lose at most a fraction of its deposits.
I thought that government perks were a major way to attract people in order to make up for the lower pay (pensions, more vacation, etc).
Still, total compensation is way lower for most government jobs.
During a bankruptcy creditors get paid first, and investors are only allowed access to what is left after creditors are paid off. Hopefully a company declares bankruptcy before their total liabilities becomes larger than their total assets, otherwise creditors cannot be paid in full.
Bank bailouts were largely done so banking services are not disrupted. As valuable as SVB was to startups, it's small potatoes to what 2007/2008 bailouts prevented. "Too big to fail" clearly doesn't apply here.
HN has grown a lot and there are much more people who are not necessarily from SV.
In the real world, if you live in SF, work in startups doing what you like, get paid well, not trapped in 9-5 etc.
That's elite and nobody will ever feel sorry for you. As a general rule every guy should always expect nobody to feel sorry for them, but this particular set of circumstances and the area of the country where they unfolded scream 'millionaires problems' to those roaming in the interwebz.
And now HN is part of the interwebz.
People are stressing the 250k FDIC requirement which is Federal and thus equal for everybody and it's one of the very few things that is equal for everybody across the land regardless of you living in Mobile, AL or San Jose, CA.
People are against the extra-insurance/safery-net/bailout being awarded to everything based in NYC and SF because everything in NYC and SF is supposedly too big and too important to fail. In this case it's not even failure but a minor inconvenience because as it stands the money is there, it's only tied up.
Second, CA gets the least back in federal spending per dollar of taxes paid, and NY is close:
Pre pandemic, only 11 states were turning a profit:
The regions most upset about federal safety nets are also the ones that benefit the most from them.
Third, it is not a minor inconvenience when $10M’s of investor money from a fundraising round gets permanently lowered to $250K (no “bailout”) or if a startup stops making payroll for 2 years (upper bound of the time range the FDIC has proposed).
State by State statistics are irrelevant considering that people who are getting up in arms are small business owners and entrepreneurs who will never receive a bailout because considered not structurally important or not big enough. And yes on a percentage basis there are more of them in flyover America, but just because flyover America States get more federal funds doesn't mean that contractors for such goods and servies are based there at all.
Plus a contract with the Govt. for a good or service to be provided is way different than a bailout. In one instance it's the Govt. acting as a customer, in the other it's the Govt. coming to the rescue to save businesses from bad outcomes.
> > Third, it is not a minor inconvenience when $10M’s of investor money from a fundraising round gets permanently lowered to $250K (no “bailout”) or if a startup stops making payroll for 2 years (upper bound of the time range the FDIC has proposed).
On a systemic level it's a minor inconvenience because the name of the game of a country is to build cool products and services in order to consume them, somebody else will have a try at building a cool product or service and those who were banking with SVB will still have all the means to consume them (which in the end is what really matters) thanks to the FDIC
And besides, get real, 99% of people will never see 250k lump sum being credited on a bank account they control (either corporate or personal) , much less a 10M lump sum which is 99.999 percentile territory, which brings me back to my OP point:
Nobody will ever feel sorry for people who live in the 'top right' area of the chart of life. Or they will but there should not be absolutely any money involved. As an example people will feel sorry for a fighter jet pilot involved in an accident during training even though the guy spent his whole life living the dream flying above the cloud and the sound barrier.
This is the state of the art. Plain and simple. As evidenced by the honors given to the fallen pilot and the insults and spits thrown in the direction of those who are receiving the bailouts.
Call it a reasoning defect, logical fallacy, whatever, I don't care. It's the state of the art, as evidenced by people reactions. So if you are so disturbed by other people indifference, stop (or alternatively never try) raising (and dealing) money but get a cool job giving you mad emotions and away from the limelight of the financial press and the corporate board room, that way you'll never have anything to worry about as it pertains to pitchforks and social hatred.
Why don’t VCs double down and make their investees whole? They’re the ones who bankroll and believe in these ideas, and stand to make 1000x profits in their successful exits.
If the headline was "California Regional Mutual Bank and Trust fails" (I made up the name, I don't know anything about banking, don't nitpick the terms) it surely would have still been newsworthy because of the size of the bank, but I suspect there would be less vitriol around the situation with the Silicon Valley connotation removed from it.
> “Depositors shouldn’t get anything beyond the insured $250,000”.
What startup normally only has $500,000 in the bank?
Anyway, cashflow can matter a lot. For instance, people that sell stuff on etsy might not be paid on time because of this. That creates a lot of customer uncertainty.
Also, I can imagine a lot of B2B startup customers are looking for second sources all of a sudden.
When a building company, building my house goes bust. The government doesn't step in to get someone to finish building it. When I order goods from a company and it goes bust, the government doesn't step in to ensure I get my goods.
There’s a moral hazard to all choices made in business. Making a choice based on insufficient due diligence is a hazard. Chasing higher rewards at higher risk is a hazard. Are you saying the government should indemnify businesses for their choices?
My understanding is that SVB avoided some restrictions placed on other banks. It’s not clear to me the why’s and wherefor’s of this but there are only two options. Either malfeasance on the part of SVB, or ignorance/risk-taking on the part of the customers.
The scahdenfreude I believe comes because it’s assumed many customers would be from the “this time it’s different” school of business, in which case there’s a lesson akin to caveat emptor begging to be learnt.
I am suggesting that your CEO not adequately insuring the companies bank deposit is negligent. If your CEO does not insure your HQ against fire, and it burns down, should it be bailed out by the government just so that you're not out of a job? Or is it not their fault that the CEO didn't use a "well-reputed landlord with adequate fire suppression?"
Everyone agrees that shareholders and bondholders should we wiped out. Everyone agrees that deposits under 250k can and will be made whole due to FDIC. The disagreement if there is one is the 250k+, why should there be an exception just because these are tech startups?
> The disagreement if there is one is the 250k+, why should there be an exception just because these are tech startups?
That's not what I'm suggesting, nor is it what I think most people who think depositors should be made whole are suggesting. In basically any bank run scenario in which depositors had behaved reasonably (which is like 99% of companies putting their money in banks), I would support depositors being made whole. Regardless of the specifics of the situation, I think the upside of maintaining our collective faith that bank deposits are safe is much larger than the downside of whatever needs to be done to achieve that.
Sorry to hear about your situation I really am. I'm personally in the camp that we as a collective country have made bad fiscal choices knowingly or unknowingly. It's time to start paying for these choices and stop looking to others else we drown in these bad choices.
I also felt differently about money when I was 25, because obviously I didn't have any. There was no way I could have any, because I had only been working for a few years (and junior devs were paid a lot less in those days). It seems like it would have been easy to be jealous of rich people at 25. Or just jealous of startup-employees who, judging by HN posts (/s), are all making 400k/year. In fact, I think some HN posts have claimed junior dev salaries more than what I was making after 20 years in the industry, which I could see might lead to some jealousy. Particularly if combined with a lack of perspective.
Why did I have to learn my lesson about the flawed system and the acceptance of tough luck, but politically-connected people didn't?
What we have today is a 2-class society.
It's the word of law above all... Unless you're politically connected; then suddenly the word of law yields to common sense.
1. Decision makers (the equity holders).
2. Active enablers (eg, certain creditors, possibly management).
3. Passive enablers (eg, other creditors, the startups who held money in the bank).
4. Bystanders (eg, taxpayers).
Why should I lose my money because I bought the stock of "a well-reputed bank"?
I, too, have worked for startups much of my life. Sometimes you show up for work one day and the doors are locked because the place is done. It is part of the deal. There are lots of reasons this can occur - hey, we just couldn't close another round, the economy hit a speed bump, etc. 2008 happened. Worldcom and Cable and Wireless just declared bankruptcy and they were our lead customers. etc. It is part of the startup cycle.
If something like this this had managed to kill AirBnb, Uber and Lyft before they did the damage they did, the world would be better off.
YEARS of disinformation about "Personal Responsibility" and not a lot of critical thinking in the interim. I'm not specifically talking about the parent comment.
Your point is sound and seems obvious to me. I also spent several years studying and fighting coordinated inauthentic content its effects on the brain. Whether coordinated or not, hearing the same message over and over again gets internalized such that it becomes reflexive to parrot.
What happens when you give every single high school senior $1000 scholarship to read Ayn Rand? What happens in a society when hyper-capitalists, their politicians, and their media narratives leave no room to consider things that are beautiful and human? What happens when STEM education starves all of the humanities of oxygen?
If it isn't this, I don't know what it is, but we're all about to find out.
"The rise and stunning fall of Silicon Valley Bank" - https://www.axios.com/2023/03/11/silicon-valley-bank-rip
So a bank like SVP seems designed to enable VCs with easy credit to de-facto control an important (and balooning) niche of the economy and by their control over the beauty pageant of which startup idea gets money (and PR) they also control what kind of technology becomes dominant. (For example, these VCs share significant credit/blame for creating the surveillance tech. They share blame for creating an engineering culture that must serve full throttle growth business models. etc.)
Is there a social graph of SVP and VCs involved? Are these people pals, friends, "effective" ideologues, etc.?
Maybe, but I was talking specifically about startups themselves being given loans by SVB then requiring the startup to bank there. But I am sure investors also pushed startups to SVB... if your investor (who maybe is highly invested in SVB ... ) says "you should use this bank" are you going to say no? The pressure is immense.
> Is there a social graph of SVP and VCs involved? Are these people pals, friends, "effective" ideologues, etc.?
I'd be more surprised if they weren't.
When was the last time you went over their deposit base and asset allocation?
On the other hand, a CFO with millions in cash is a professional whose job is to manage corporate risk. A competent CFO needs to account for things like bank failures, which do happen.
So if my nascent 5-person startup raises 1.2M your suggestion is I need to hire a CFO? That's going to help innovation?
For something you can't afford to lose, you sure fon't seem to be treating it that way.
Why not just let the FDIC do their job, trust in the banking system and save yourself the trouble of worrying about a bank run.
Sweep account and credit rating. First is a one-time option. Second, an occasional check.
Borderline investment grade isn’t “high as possible.”
A few times but only for a short time and a small percentage of the capital. Was already a full grown adult in 2008, have good memory, and are still licking many old lion financial battle scars...
But that rate has been creeping up for months now.
SVB was too small to qualify for risk assessment under the revised banking rules. So they could get away with money in volatile securities that were very interest rate sensitive.
That said, SVB seemed very solid until Thursday morning.
That sounds a bit like "it's not risky to driver a motor vehicle as long as you don't get into an accident".
It's like driving into a parking structure and seeing exposed rebar. It might still be standing now; but if you're smart, you need to find somewhere else to park.
Or that VC should have their risk controls? Only conservative old school bankers should invest in startups? Or what exactly?
"A: In the unlikely event of a bank failure, the FDIC responds in two capacities."
"First, as the insurer of the bank's deposits, the FDIC pays insurance to depositors up to the insurance limit. Historically, the FDIC pays insurance within a few days after a bank closing, usually the next business day, by either 1) providing each depositor with a new account at another insured bank in an amount equal to the insured balance of their account at the failed bank, or 2) issuing a check to each depositor for the insured balance of their account at the failed bank....
...In some cases—for example, deposits that exceed $250,000 and are linked to trust documents or deposits established by a third-party broker—the FDIC may need additional time to determine the amount of deposit insurance coverage and may request supplemental information from the depositor in order to complete the insurance determination..."
"Second, as the receiver of the failed bank, the FDIC assumes the task of selling/collecting the assets of the failed bank and settling its debts, including claims for deposits in excess of the insured limit. If a depositor has uninsured funds (i.e., funds above the insured limit), they may recover some portion of their uninsured funds from the proceeds from the sale of failed bank assets. However, it can take several years to sell off the assets of a failed bank. As assets are sold, depositors who had uninsured funds usually receive periodic payments (on a pro-rata "cents on the dollar" basis) on their remaining claim."
"Deposit Insurance FAQs" - https://www.fdic.gov/resources/deposit-insurance/faq/
Maybe SVB themselves downplayed this?
Take https://am.jpmorgan.com/content/dam/jpm-am-aem/global/en/ins... as an example:
> The liabiity issue: extreme reliance on institutional/VC funding rather than traditional retail deposits
> While capital, wholesale funding and loan to deposit ratios improved for many US banks since 2008, there are
exceptions. As shown in the first chart, SIVB was in a league of its own: a high level of loans plus securities as
a percentage of deposits, and very low reliance on stickier retail deposits as a share of total deposits. Bottom
line: SIVB carved out a distinct and riskier niche than other banks, setting itself up for large potential capital
shortfalls in case of rising interest rates, deposit outflows and forced asset sales.
"The liability issue: extreme reliance on institutional/VC funding rather than traditional retail deposits.
...While capital, wholesale funding and loan to deposit ratios improved for many US banks since 2008, there are exceptions. As shown in the first chart, SIVB was in a league of its own: a high level of loans plus securities as a percentage of deposits, and very low reliance on stickier retail deposits as a share of total deposits. Bottom line: SIVB carved out a distinct and riskier niche than other banks, setting itself up for large potential capital shortfalls in case of rising interest rates, deposit outflows and forced asset sales. [Note: This chart appeared in our 2023 Outlook in a discussion on risks related to deposits, rising rates and quantitative tightening]..."
For the shareholders of SVB, Patio11 of course says it best: https://twitter.com/patio11/status/1634925745515692034
> The sacred duty of equity is to take losses before depositors.
When everyone around you looks like an asshole, you might be the asshole.
I am, indeed, an absolute asshole. But then again, my post only said something about finding it funny, not that I'm not an asshole. Nor does it preclude people participating in the clown show from being clowns.
Kindly leave, this place is not for you.
Simple fantasies for simple minds, no different than lazy racism or any other form of bigotry.
Your mind immediately equating good old schadenfreude with lazy racism is indeed telling, but I'll refrain from saying anything, Americans have never been excellent at either context or nuance.
Sounds like you did.
In any case, schadenfreude typically falls into one of three categories: justice, rivalry or aggression. The OP sounds like they are experiencing the justice aspect- that these people who contribute so little are now enduring hardship.
The problem is that "these people" is just another lazy stereotype- it is just another form of aggression; equating everyone who is hurt here as "easy jobs that can easily be replaced" is not unlike assuming everyone living in a ghetto neighborhood is a thug.
The effects and scope of harm of the stereotype may be different, but both come from the same mental state of mind- these people are other, they don't live like I think they should, and they get what they deserve, despite the fact that the "they" in the sentiment is not representative of the people harmed by it.
We enjoy watching people face the consequences of their actions. We absolutely hate it when they manage to avoid the consequences.
Also, I don't think people in SV appreciate how much rancor and resentment their behavior has generated in the last fifteen years.
What would happen if this happened to an employer's bank in Indiana?
Your company's assets don't exist any more and you're insolvent. US bankruptcy protection is very generous, apply for it and try and to regroup.
Literally the same thing would happen, and people wouldn't be making such a big deal about it being a handout to greedy convenience store owners who didn't perform exhaustive diligence on the bank up the street.
Is it purely jealousy, or do people feel harmed?
Or, if in a touristy area, flooding their residential neighborhood with unregulated AirBnBs?
If bicycle/motorcycle rider, putting "self/driving" cars they knew cant detect two wheeled vehicles?
Adding a police detector to continue providing illegal taxi service in cities?
Having a business model where our personal information is syphoned off and commoditized?
Creating social media creating new, widespread, psychological diseases?
Creating the infrastructure for mass surveillance through by selling access to their product through government partnerships?
This is HN... all these stories well documented here.
It also sounds like they can't distinguish between their own failings (in terms of personal behavior and bad government) and the failings of businesses.
I don't see this as a fair statement. There is a difference between killing a startup and letting it die.
Zero interest-rate policy allowed for the creation of investors and startups that never had to think about the realities of managing cash.
Using FDIC insurance to keep them afloat is acceptable. Anything beyond that is silly.
Because you want to take my money, and your justification for wanting my money is simply “My company made a mistake.”
A bailout beyond FDIC receivership is simply a payout to VCs. SVB’s resolution will be a solid measure of much political clout they have.
That didn’t have an investment grade rating, where $250k comes out of taxpayer coffers Monday morning, and where everyone has unemployment insurance? Yes.
The assets of the bank should go to your company first. But the public purse should not be opened.
This isn't coming out of taxpayer coffers. FDIC insurance premiums are paid by the banks.
Fair enough. The FDIC is funded by premiums but backstopped by the Treasury. There is no private insurance function that pays out at this scale the next business day.
Possibly, but not necessarily. FDIC funds pay insured deposits before determinations about assets are made.
First stock holders get wiped out (common then preferred), then debt holders (folks who have lent money to SVB won’t get their money back), only then would it hit depositors - and in the case of a traditional bank it usually wouldn’t hit them hard since most funds are FDIC insured.
I can imagine being incensed about stockholders and debt holders being made whole, if that were to happen - since then people would learn the wrong lesson here. But nobody think that’s going to happen.
If depositors aren’t protected, then it’s going to have a lot of downstream impacts (people won’t make payroll, and employees who have no responsibility won’t get paid). And again, it’s not like folks who chose were gambling with a shady bank to get high interest rates, in many ways SVB was considered the least risky and most conservative bank to use as a startup. At least that’s why we chose it.
Note, one of the SVB executives was the former Lehman Brothers CFO in 2007, just one year prior to that institution’s collapse in 2008. What did he learn, exactly, besides how to get out in time?
It’s not that we punish the depositors but the scheme is set up that depositors suffer.
Imagine the mob stole all that money. It’s not punishing the depositors to not pay them back. The mob punished the depositors by stealing.
If I don’t buy homeowners insurance and some arsonist burns down my house, I’m out $100k to rebuild. Is it punishing me if the government doesn’t bail me out? The government isn’t punishing me, the arsonist punished me.
If we want government coverage then we should enact laws to cover this kind of thing and raise taxes and fees accordingly. We can’t enjoy the benefits of low regulation when it makes us money and then ask for coverage after the fact. After we’ve reaped the benefits of no regulation.
If you want to stop mismanagement like this don’t repeal banking regulations and instead regulate banks properly, that has nothing to do with that the fed decides to do for depositors to stop contagion and ripple effects in other industries.
The government has fdic and insures up to $250k. That’s what our taxes paid for. If we wanted to insure depositors for greater amounts, we would have paid more taxes.
This was an eyes wide open situation. Depositors could have managed their large sums of cash better. They didn’t, choosing to save money. Now it sucks.
Another analogy would be that if a couple skipped life insurance and leased a Porsche. And now the wage earner has been murdered and the remaining spouse is asking the government to pay for their dead spouses wages, while still driving the Porsche.
FYI, FDIC insurance coverage is funded by premium payments from covered banks, not from "our taxes".
EDIT - seems Signature bank has failed as well today, and the Fed has decided to guarantee deposits at both.
> If we want government coverage then we should enact laws to cover this kind of thing
We already have. The uninsured depositors will be repaid from premiums paid to the FDIC by the rest of the banking industry.
The distinction here is that in this metaphor, the bank managers are both the homeowner and the arsonist.
> “Let me be clear that during the financial crisis, there were investors and owners of systemic large banks that were bailed out . . . and the reforms that have been put in place means we are not going to do that again,” Yellen said on Face the Nation.
> “But we are concerned about depositors, and we’re focused on trying to meet their needs.”
I would hope these execs are prosecuted and any bonuses clawed back but that would be under the purview of a different agency (sec) not fdic, and is not an immediate concern, whereas a massive financial shock and 100s of companies closing due to lack of funds is.
I also don't know how refusing to make depositors whole would disincentivize bas behavior by execs, anyway? Seems like two unrelated issues.
How many global economic meltdowns do we have to go through before people learn that banks are literally the root cause of so many of society's problems? Depositors aren't being punished enough if they're still buying into this system. They keep feeding the beast and complaining when it eats them.
They're already required to do KYC/AML due dilligence on normal human beings. Why shouldn't they be required to do the same for the banks they trust their fortunes with?
This is highly misleading. The bonuses were calculated/awarded from last year. The stock sales were pre-scheduled.