Bank failures, rate talk, and economic anxieties
Is the banking crisis finally in the rearview mirror? During March, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) unexpectedly collapsed after it announced a plan to raise capital. Signature Bank (SB) was shuttered shortly after SVB’s closure.
At the time, it was the second and third-largest bank failures in U.S. history.
First Republic Bank (FRB) was already on shaky ground but had survived by borrowing heavily from the Federal Reserve and government-backed lending groups.
When it released its earnings in late April, FRB said it lost a significant amount of deposits in the first quarter, dooming its ability to remain independent.
Shortly thereafter, with the assistance of the FDIC, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) announced on May 1 that it will purchase the deposits and most assets of First Republic. FRB’s failure is now the second-largest failure in U.S. banking history.
How does this compare to the 2008 financial crisis? It doesn’t.
The 2008 crisis was sparked by ultra-easy mortgage lending practices that encouraged borrowers to buy homes they couldn’t afford and take out mortgages they didn’t understand.
While Signature Bank was heavy in the crypto space, the common thread in the 2023 failures was a bad bet on interest rates, not poor-quality assets.
FRB leaned heavily into jumbo-sized mortgages when rates were much lower. Silicon Valley loaded up on long-term Treasury bonds when yields were at rock-bottom levels.
When interest rates rose, those assets fell sharply in value, leading to their demise.
The decision by the FDIC to fully back the deposits of SVB and SB probably prevented a series of bank runs on mid-sized regional banks, which would have greatly increased the size and scope of the crisis.
Moreover, the Federal Reserve implemented a new lending facility to allow banks to borrow using high-quality assets as collateral, which helped shore up liquidity and calm frazzled nerves.
It’s not that these banks were experiencing the kind of troubles we saw in 2008, but the fear of a panic was real for those who had deposits that exceeded the FDIC limit.
It only takes a few keystrokes on a PC or smartphone to move cash today. Welcome to the world of 21st century bank runs.
We can’t definitively say there aren’t problems still lurking in the shadows. But JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said, “This part of the crisis is over. For now, let’s take a deep breath.”
Table 1: Key Index Returns
Dow Jones Industrial Average
S&P 500 Index
Russell 2000 Index
MSCI World ex-USA**
MSCI Emerging Markets**
Bloomberg US Agg Total Return
Source: Wall Street Journal, MSCI.com, MarketWatch, Bloomberg
MTD returns: March 31, 2023 –April 28, 2023 YTD returns: December 30, 2022–April 28, 2023
With the banking crisis sliding to the backburner last month, investors turned to the economic fundamentals.
Inflation is gradually moderating, but it’s not yet on a path back to the Fed’s 2% annual target, something Fed Chief Powell and most Fed officials last year said was a prerequisite before ending its rate-hike campaign.
But banking jitters have forced the Fed to reevaluate the tools (rate hikes) they are using to rein in inflation. We may get a rate hike at the May 3 meeting. Perhaps this might be the last time this cycle.
But the Fed will keep its options open.
Talk of a pause aided shares in April. Better-than-expected corporate profits, according to Refinitiv, also supported stocks, offsetting economic concerns.
Still, economic storm clouds on the horizon likely limited gains last month.
“Usually, recessions sneak up on us. CEOs never talk about recessions,” economist Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics said late last year. “Now it seems CEOs are falling over themselves to say we’re falling into a recession. …Every person on TV says recession. Every economist says recession. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Even the Federal Reserve, which rarely talks recession in advance, expects a mild recession to develop later in the year.
Given recent market action last month, investors aren’t yet betting on a recession.
Debt ceiling drama
The U.S. Treasury is running up against its ability to borrow to finance government spending, possibly as soon as early June.
Without an increase, the U.S risks default. Republicans and Democrats are far apart, but a default is almost unthinkable. We believe a compromise will be reached that raises the debt ceiling since the failure to do so would lead to catastrophic consequences for financial markets and the economy.
I am writing this month’s letter on Saturday afternoon, May 27, 2023. I know it’s late in the month, but I wanted to provide you with the most current information regarding our conversion to the Fidelity Institutional® custodial platform.
As of today, all of our clients throughout the country have recognized the advantage of our new multi-custodial platform and have agreed to convert to the Concurrent RIA. We are thankful and honored by your loyalty and trust in us. That is something we never take for granted.
Throughout my entire career, I never dreamed we would be positioned for an opportunity like this. Now, this allows us to be a true fiduciary and to be objective and to leverage competition to our clients’ best interests. This event is a game changer, with more exciting news to be announced next month. Check out this link to a recent article in Barron’s interviewing Nate Lenz, the CEO of Concurrent Investment Advisors LLC. We met Nate in the fall of 2018
prior to leaving Morgan Stanley 1,551 days ago. Nate was the deciding factor on whether we joined Concurrent at Raymond James or LPL.
The technology available on our new platform is incredible. It’s like the “Best of the Best” in terms of what it allows us to do for you. We currently have access to Wealthscape at Fidelity Institutional®, Black Diamond for Reporting and client connectivity and U.S. Bank and Goldman Sachs for lending. There are others, but I won’t bore you with details. As I mentioned, there will be announcements coming next month regarding a new custodian (click on the link above for a clue!)
You also know from previous newsletters that we have been involved in expanding our footprint in Downtown Longview. This process has been going on for 2 years and we’re at the end of the buildout. All that’s left are “punch out items” and we are excited to show off our new office space. With that being said, we will be having our Open House on Tuesday June 20, 2023, from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM. Mark your calendars! We hope you can join us and meet Nate Lenz in person. Yes, Nate will be helping us celebrate while he is in the area. Consider this your open invitation to attend.
As always, if you have any questions or would like to discuss any matters, please feel free to give me or any of my team a call. We are here to assist you!
We are honored and humbled that you have given us the opportunity to serve as your financial advisor. That is something we never take for granted. Again, Thank You for the Loyalty and Trust you have placed in us. Now, Get Ready, The Best Is Yet to Come!
As you embark on your wealth management journey, you may wonder whether financial advisors truly add value to your investments. By answering these five essential