Former Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank Executives Testify Before Senate Banking Committee on Banks’ Collapse
Former executives of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank appeared before the Senate banking committee on May 16, 2023, to testify about the reasons behind the banks' recent failures. The hearing focused on how and why the banks collapsed, with lawmakers questioning the executives about their compensation, paychecks, and bonus payouts. The panel included former CEO of Silicon Valley Bank, Greg Becker, former Chairman and Co-founder of Signature Bank, Scott Shay, and former President of Signature Bank, Eric Howell.
During the two-hour hearing, Becker blamed the media for the bank's collapse, citing a Financial Times article from February 21 that compared SVB to Silvergate Bank, a cryptocurrency bank that liquidated in March. Becker argued that news reports and investors wrongly lumped SVB and Silvergate together, leading to rumors and misconceptions that quickly spread online and culminated in the first-ever social media bank run on March 9. “Despite stark differences in our business models, news reports and investors wrongly lumped SVB and Silvergate together,” Becker said. “Rumors and misconceptions quickly spread online, leading to more than $42 billion in deposits being withdrawn from SVB in 10 hours, or $1 million every second.”
However, senators were critical of Becker's management of the bank, with Senator Tim Scott, R-S.C., stating that he was “shocked at the complete negligence and disregard for the economic realities that this country was facing.” Senator John Kennedy, R-La., also criticized Becker, saying, “Mr. Becker, you made a really stupid bet that went bad. You put all your eggs in one basket.”
The hearing also highlighted the deregulation of the banking industry, with Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, pointing out that Becker had previously lobbied Congress to do away with the Dodd-Frank rules designed to protect the nation's banking system. The Dodd-Frank rules had been put in place to reduce bank risk in the wake of the Great Financial Crisis.
In separate testimony to the House finance committee, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman for Supervision Michael Barr said that SVB mismanaged its interest rate risk. He also faulted regulators, including the Fed, for not recognizing how vulnerable the bank was and for not pressing the bank's leaders hard enough to fix “serious problems” they had discovered at the bank as early as 2021.
The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, along with First Republic Bank, has raised concerns about the stability of the banking industry and the need for stronger regulations to prevent future failures. With former bank executives testifying before Congress and regulators examining the causes of the failures, it remains to be seen what changes will be made to prevent similar collapses in the future.
0. “Watch live: Execs from collapsed banks testify before House panel” The Hill, 17 May. 2023, https://thehill.com/homenews/4008189-watch-live-execs-from-collapsed-banks-testify-before-house-panel/
1. “Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank executives face Senate over collapse” MSNBC, 16 May. 2023, https://www.msnbc.com/jose-diaz-balart/watch/silicon-valley-bank-signature-bank-executives-face-senate-over-collapse-174508613963
2. “Ex-SVB CEO blames the Fed, media for bank's collapse” San Francisco Chronicle, 16 May. 2023, https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/silicon-valley-bank-ceo-senate-18101924.php
3. “In his first public appearance since SVB’s collapse, former CEO Greg Becker is asked to defend trip to Hawaii and whether he’ll forfeit $1.5 million bonus” Yahoo Finance, 16 May. 2023, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/first-public-appearance-since-svb-221807670.html
4. “SVB and Signature CEOs Blame Federal Gov't, Media for Bank Failures” Commercial Observer, 16 May. 2023, https://commercialobserver.com/2023/05/svb-signature-ceos-blame-federal-govt-media-bank-failures
5. “Senators grill former SVB CEO over “fatally mismanaged” bank” Axios, 16 May. 2023, https://www.axios.com/2023/05/16/former-svb-ceo-greg-becker-grilled-senate
6. “These Bankers Are So Unapologetic, Even Republicans Can't Stand Them” The New Republic, 16 May. 2023, https://newrepublic.com/article/172770/svb-sovereign-bankers-senate-hearing-unapologetic-republicans
7. “Who Crashed the Banks? Lawmakers Find Plenty of Suspects” Investopedia, 16 May. 2023, https://www.investopedia.com/who-crashed-the-banks-7498958