Joseph Stiglitz in Project Syndicate:
The run on Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) – on which nearly half of all venture-backed tech start-ups in the United States depend – is in part a rerun of a familiar story, but it’s more than that. Once again, economic policy and financial regulation has proven inadequate.
The news about the second-biggest bank failure in US history came just days after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell assured Congress that the financial condition of America’s banks was sound. But the timing should not be surprising. Given the large and rapid increases in interest rates Powell engineered – probably the most significant since former Fed Chair Paul Volcker’s interest-rate hikes of 40 years ago – it was predicted that dramatic movements in the prices of financial assets would cause trauma somewhere in the financial system.
But, again, Powell assured us not to worry – despite abundant historical experience indicating that we should be worried. Powell was part of former President Donald Trump’s regulatory team that worked to weaken the Dodd-Frank bank regulations enacted after the 2008 financial meltdown, in order to free “smaller” banks from the standards applied to the largest, systemically important, banks. By the standards of Citibank, SVB is small. But it’s not small in the lives of the millions who depend on it.