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Monday, 13 March 2023

US to bail out SVB depositors, hand emergency loans to banks to avert financial crisis

US authorities have moved to guarantee all deposits held at the collapsed Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) in emergency measures aimed at preventing contagion and a wider crisis in the banking sector. Here’s what’s happening:

#1- Depositors will have access to all of their money starting Monday, the Treasury, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Ins. Corporation said in a joint statement last night. Typically, only the first USD 250k is insured under US law but authorities say they will make whole all deposits held at the bank.

#2- The Federal Reserve is providing emergency lending to US banks to “help assure banks have the ability to meet the needs of all their depositors,” it announced last night. The facility will provide loans of up to one year to lenders that pledge US treasuries, mortgage bonds and other qualifying assets.

Another bank just failed: The New York-based Signature Bank yesterday became the third-largest US bank failure on record when regulators shuttered the lender due to “systemic risk.” This came just two days after SVB’s implosion, raising fears among policymakers that the US banking system could be swiftly engulfed in crisis. Clients of Signature Bank — one of the primary banks for the crypto industry — will also have their deposits guaranteed by the government, according to the statement.

ICYMI: SVB was shut down by US regulators on Friday, becoming the second-largest bank failure in US history, following a frantic two-day bank run. The bank was one of the most popular for startups, leaving firms across the world without access to their deposits.

There are plenty of Egyptian startups affected: A list circulating among local players reportedly includes the names of 46 Egyptian startups and two VC firms (one of them global) that were banked with SVB, an industry source told us last week. Acasia Ventures Managing Partner Aly El Shalakany told us at the weekend that 2-3 of the 10 companies in Acasia’s portfolio banked with SVB, while three of the portfolio companies of EFG Hermes’ startup investment arm EFG EV Fintech have exposure, valU CEO Walid Hassouna told Al Borsa yesterday, without revealing any names.

The CBE speaks: In a statement (pdf) yesterday, the central bank confirmed that the Egyptian banking sector does not have exposure to SVB, adding that local banks have not made any investments in (or deposits with) SVB.

It doesn’t look like anyone wants SVB: An auction held by US regulators yesterday doesn’t seem to have gone well, according to the Financial Times’ sources, who say that all potential buyers had declined to bid. None of the country’s five largest banks — including JPMorgan and Bank of America — were interested, and neither were Canadian lender RBC and US bank PNC who were both invited to bid.

The markets are relieved: Risk assets rose in the wake of the announcement, with US stock futures up almost 2% and BTC climbing almost 10%. Meanwhile, US treasuries and gold both climbed. The response in Asia this morning is decidedly mixed, with shares in Japan down more than 1.5%, the Kospi treading water, and Chinese shares in the green.

The odds of a more aggressive Fed rate hike next week have declined significantly: Concerns about the impact rising interest rates are having on the banking sector will likely cause the Federal Reserve to opt for caution when it holds its policy meeting next week and raise rates by another 25 bps. A week ago, the market was pricing in a larger 50-bps hike but investors now think that the banking scare, together with softening wage growth in February, will prompt policymakers to go for a smaller rise, according to the Financial Times.

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