OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Bill Ackman, a billionaire hedge fund manager, warned of an impending economic collapse that could occur when banks open on Monday morning after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank over the weekend.
Ackman, of Pershing Square Capital Management, urgently called on President Joe Biden and his administration to intervene and protect all of the bank’s depositors. He cautioned that failure to act could have a ripple effect on other smaller banks in the industry.
According to the Daily Mail, Ackman is worried that customers may quickly withdraw money from their accounts due to concerns about the banking system’s instability. As such, he implored the federal government to take action and correct a mistake that could soon become irreversible by Monday morning to avoid a potential catastrophe.
Ackman’s urgent call came on the heels of a video message from SVB Financial Group’s CEO, Greg Becker, acknowledging the “incredibly difficult” 48 hours leading up to the bank’s collapse on Friday.
In a lengthy statement released on Twitter, Ackman laid out what he believes are all the potential ramifications of inaction on the part of the government should Biden decide not to step in.
The gov’t has about 48 hours to fix a-soon-to-be-irreversible mistake. By allowing @SVB_Financial to fail without protecting all depositors, the world has woken up to what an uninsured deposit is — an unsecured illiquid claim on a failed bank. Absent @jpmorgan @citi or… https://t.co/SqdkFK7Fld
— Bill Ackman (@BillAckman) March 11, 2023
The gov’t has about 48 hours to fix a-soon-to-be-irreversible mistake. By allowing @SVB_Financial to fail without protecting all depositors, the world has woken up to what an uninsured deposit is — an unsecured illiquid claim on a failed bank. Absent @jpmorgan @citi or @BankofAmerica acquiring SVB before the open on Monday, a prospect I believe to be unlikely, or the gov’t guaranteeing all of SVB’s deposits, the giant sucking sound you will hear will be the withdrawal of substantially all uninsured deposits from all but the ‘systemically important banks’ (SIBs).
These funds will be transferred to the SIBs, US Treasury (UST) money market funds and short-term UST. There is already pressure to transfer cash to short-term UST and UST money market accounts due to the substantially higher yields available on risk-free UST vs. bank deposits. These withdrawals will drain liquidity from community, regional and other banks and begin the destruction of these important institutions. The increased demand for short-term UST will drive short rates lower complicating the @federalreserve’s efforts to raise rates to slow the economy.
Late Sunday, according to reports, Biden said he planned to address the SVB failure as well as those of some other big banks over the past week.
Asked by reporters when he would address the banking crisis, Biden said “tomorrow morning,” according to Reuters.
“Speaking on a Twitter Space on Saturday, Ackman pointed the finger directly at the bank’s board and senior management team for the mismanagement of the institution, and called for their removal and replacement with a new team,” noted financial data site Benzinga.
“He highlighted the fact that most of SVB’s held-to-maturity securities consisted of mortgage bonds issued by government-sponsored entities, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He also said the bank’s collapse was an ‘oversight failure’ by the government, which was equally responsible,” the site noted further.
According to Ackman, SVB’s collapse was inevitable due to the bank’s concentrated exposure to the tech sector, making it an outlier in terms of risk. Additionally, he noted that the tech community’s connectedness on social media platforms like Twitter contributed to the rapid withdrawal of funds after Peter Thiel advised people to pull their money out, according to the financial site.
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On Saturday, however, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that the federal government would not step in to save the bank, the 16th largest in the nation.
“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,” she said on the CBS “Face The Nation” on Saturday.
“But we are concerned about depositors, and we’re focused on trying to meet their needs,” she said.