Washington Post has good coverage, behind a paywall though. The summary, which sounds entirely plausible, is that the bank took a large position in ten-year US Treasuries at exactly the wrong time, and rising rates lowered the value of their portfolio, and hence their capitalization. In 2022 2023 the stressed tech companies have been drawing more than expected to cover their “cash burn” (I love that term… it sounds so idiotic and futile). Banks have to report everything, they can’t keep it secret, so when it was announced they had to sell assets to cover their withdrawals, all of the Tech Bros, who often move in a mindless herd anyway, panicked and tried to get out of the same small fire exit, and they trampled each other.
I’m not terribly worried about contagion personally. I think bank failures will happen again in 2023 2024, though. The next one might be real estate related, not tech related. Maybe more crypto related bank and exchanges go dark. I keep assets spread over several institutions so I can always pay the bills if there is an issue with one or more of them. I download and save my latest monthly statements so I can prove ownership.
Rising rates is the same thing that brought down the UK government of Liz Truss, Ms. “Head of Lettuce”. The UK announced big spending but no new taxes, the bond market said, “OH NO YOU DON’T” forcing interest rates up*, the UK pensions got undercapitalized, the UK government had to print money to bail them out… how could you let pensions fail. The UK Pound plunged in value, which of course makes everything imported, and they import a great deal being a post-industrial island and all, more costly. So she was out.
More things are going to break. Market predictions (like weather forecasts, they get revised constantly and are never correct until you get closer to the period you’re trying to predict), are that US short term rates to get to almost 6% by October 2023. The yield curve will be deeply inverted still… it has been for a long time now. The yield curve is a very good predictor of recession.
I think there will be deals in the stock and bond markets late in 2023, and into 2024, 2025. Have dry powder and be patient. Curious though - Meb Faber says, “The stock market is the only place where when things go on sale people run screaming out of the store”.
The stock of Charles Schwab Corp., SCHW, has gotten creamed with the Silicon Valley Bank thing. I don’t have desires to own Schwab, but it might be a stock to look at now.
- AKA “The Bond Vigilantes”