US lenders preparing for possible bank runs
US banks took out a combined $164.8 billion in loans from two Federal Reserve facilities over the past fortnight, Fed statistics released on Thursday showed. This came as lenders rushed to backstop liquidity in the event of bank runs in the wake of the Silicon Valley Bank collapse.
According to the data, US lenders borrowed $152.85 billion from the discount window in the week ending March 15, up from $4.58 billion in the previous week. The figure, which marks an all-time high, topped a record set during the 2008 financial crisis.
The borrowing came via the Fed’s discount window, which is a tool whereby the Fed provides liquidity to banks in the form of loans against safe collateral for up to 90 days. US lenders also obtained another $11.9 billion in loans through the Fed’s Bank Term Funding Program, a facility launched following the SVB collapse and under which funding is available for up to one year.
Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported that the top six Wall Street banks have lost around $165 billion in market capitalization this month, about 13% of their combined value, in the wake of the fallout from the largest US bank failure since 2008.
Last week, SVB, which focused on the tech and startup sectors, was shut down by the US financial authorities, thus sparking a crisis in the sector. This followed the liquidation of California-based, crypto-focused Silvergate and New York-based Signature Bank.
The Fed’s report did not specify the exact number of banks or the identity the institutions that secured funding. Meanwhile, US banking majors have given no indication they are experiencing any solvency issues.
Earlier this week, US President Joe Biden offered assurances that the American banking system remained safe, and that the government would do “whatever is needed” to protect it against a full-blown crisis.
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