The case against the bailout of the Silicon Valley Bank


5:46 pm

Matthew Stoller explained the dangers of the decision to protect SVB depositors

Through UnHerd personnel

Reaction to the bailout of Silicon Valley Bank has been sharply divided, but not along political lines. On the one hand, there are democratic economic advisers, established Republicans and venture capitalist libertarians like David Sacks, who op behead this week to defend the decision. On the other side are populist politicians from the left and right, such as Senators Elizabeth Warren and JD Vance, who are calling for the banking industry’s loose regulatory framework to be addressed.

One figure who has offered his full support to the latter camp is economist Matthew Stoller. Stoller is research director of the American Economic Liberties Project and writes the Substack ‘BIG‘. He joined Freddie Sayers explain why he thinks the SVB bailout was so disastrous, arguing that it was completely unnecessary:

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This is all stupid and very annoying, and yet another justification for this entwined, corrupt system and policymakers who are simply afraid of their own shadow. […] If you take risks, you have to eat the downside when something goes wrong. That’s just the reality here, and there wasn’t even that much downside. It’s all embarrassing.

– Matthew Stoller

According to Stoller, the SVB crisis was a storm in a teacup, whipped up by administrators who did not want to deal with the inevitable consequences of their ‘poor risk management’.

This was just panic. The bank did a poor job of managing risk so their executives could make a lot of money. They were gambling with other people’s money. They lost. And then the people whose money they gambled with went crazy and went to the regulators and scared them. And so the regulators made them whole. That’s really all this is.

– Matthew Stoller

Which begs the question: What would have happened if the Fed hadn’t acted? According to Stoller, SVB depositors would have been more or less okay over time if the crisis had followed a natural course:

Their deposits would not disappear. […] If we had just gone through and let the FDIC sort out the bank, as they should have today, most Silicon Valley Bank clients would probably have access to between 40% and 70% of their deposits. Probably 80% by the end of the week; and in two to four months maybe they would have had access to everything, maybe they should have had a light haircut.

– Matthew Stoller

Stoller believes the entire banking system needs an overhaul. First and foremost, the too big to fail banks must be dismantled and regulated “more aggressive”, with tThe result is “more banks, closer to communities, enabling risk management.” Another solution, which may be less palatable to many, is to allow everyone and anyone to bank directly with the Federal Reserve risk-free. Concerns about privacy and government control were dismissed. In any case, Stoller declares that it is a myth that the government is not already pulling the strings:

All banks are basically chartered by the government, they are inspected by the government, they have access to a whole financial safety net that is provided by the government. So, you know, this isn’t a huge incremental change in how we see things, it’s moving away from the illusion we have, that the banking system is kind of private

– Matthew Stoller


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