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Two More Banks Failed — Will More Follow?

Updated on February 22nd, 2024
Fact checked by Deanna Ritchie

Deanna Ritchie

Deanna Ritchie is a managing editor at Due. She has a degree in English Literature. She has written 2000+ articles on getting out of debt and mastering your finances. She has edited over 60,000 articles in her life. She has a passion for helping writers inspire others through their words. Deanna has also been an editor at Entrepreneur Magazine and ReadWrite.... Read More

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Two More Banks Failed

All right, Life Goal Nation! The United States banking sector has been facing considerable challenges recently, with several bank failures and forced mergers causing concerns among experts and analysts. Back in March, the banking industry witnessed two of the largest bank failures in US history, involving Silicon Valley Bank and First Republic Bank. However, the 2023 banking crisis appears far from over, as there have been additional bank failures and government-directed mergers in the past week alone.

This in-depth article will delve into the reasons behind these recent developments and assess their potential impact on the broader economy and the stock market.

 

The Recent Bank Failures and Forced Mergers

In the past week, two critical events unfolded in the banking sector. First, Heartland Bank in Kansas experienced an outright failure, leading to its doors being closed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

The second incident involved an organized merger between PAC West Bank and Bank of California, facilitated by the US government to prevent a potential failure. Notably, JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon played a role in assisting with this merger.

Three Key Factors Influencing How These Banks Failed

1. Rising Interest Rates

The Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates from zero to 5.5% in less than 18 months is a significant factor contributing to these developments. This major change has had several consequences:

  • Lower demand for loans: With increased interest rates, loan affordability decreases as high monthly payments deter potential borrowers. Consequently, there is a reduced demand for loans from banks. For instance, the doubling of mortgage rates over the past 18 months has led to a 30% drop in the number of homes sold in the US.
  •  Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) become more expensive: With rising interest rates, previously loaned money through adjustable-rate mortgages becomes costlier, making it difficult for borrowers to meet their payment obligations. Banks also begin to question the creditworthiness of these borrowers, particularly in the commercial real estate sector.
  • Reduced willingness to lend: Due to these concerns, banks are increasingly reluctant to lend money to customers.

2. Tightening Lending Standards

Yesterday’s senior loan officer survey, which polls large and small banks alike, confirmed this ongoing trend in the industry. Banks reported reduced loan demand across all categories and raised their lending standards. They also projected that both of these trends would continue in the future. This restrictive lending environment ultimately leads to fewer loans being made, thus slowing down banks’ core business.

3. Government Intervention and Forced Mergers

The US government has attempted to mitigate the banking crisis by orchestrating forced mergers, such as the PAC West Bank and Bank of California merger, to prevent outright failures. Simultaneously, the government aims to keep these interventions as quiet as possible to avoid causing public alarm, which could potentially result in bank runs.

The Impact on the Broader Economy and Stock Market

The ongoing crisis in the banking sector does not bode well for the broader economy and stock market. Banks are critical in facilitating economic growth by providing loans for businesses, individuals, and real estate ventures. However, as lending standards tighten and interest rates continue to rise, credit availability becomes more limited, stunting economic growth.

Moreover, bank failures can have a contagion effect that ripples through the financial system and affects investor confidence in other financial institutions. This eroded confidence can reduce stock market investments, further hindering economic growth.

For example, see what happened in the European Sovereign Debt Crisis.

Finally, the government’s efforts to manage the crisis may be met with skepticism by the public, creating mistrust that ultimately exacerbates the negative impact on the economy and stock market.

[Related: Silicon Valley Bank’s Downfall: A Warning for Regional Banks]

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What recent events have impacted the US banking sector?

The US banking sector has been facing considerable challenges recently, with several bank failures and forced mergers causing concerns among experts and analysts. Two of the largest bank failures in US history occurred in the past, involving Silicon Valley Bank and First Republic Bank. Additionally, there have been more recent bank failures and government-directed mergers, such as the failure of Heartland Bank and the merger between PAC West Bank and the Bank of California.

2. What are the key factors influencing the ongoing banking crisis?

Three primary factors are contributing to the current banking crisis:

  1. Rising Interest Rates: The Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates from zero to 5.5% in less than 18 months has resulted in lower demand for loans, making adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) more expensive and causing banks to become more reluctant to lend money to customers.
  2. Tightening Lending Standards: Banks have reported reduced loan demand across all categories and raised their lending standards. This trend will continue, leading to fewer loans and slowing down banks’ core business.
  3. Government Intervention and Forced Mergers: The US government has been actively orchestrating forced mergers, like the PAC West Bank and Bank of California merger, to prevent outright failures. The government aims to keep these interventions discreet to avoid causing public alarm and potential bank runs.

3. How does the banking crisis impact the broader economy and stock market?

The ongoing banking crisis poses several challenges to the broader economy and stock market. With tightening lending standards and rising interest rates, credit availability becomes limited, stifling economic growth. Bank failures can also create a contagion effect, affecting investor confidence in other financial institutions and reducing stock market investments, further hindering economic growth.

4. What role do banks play in the economy, and how does the crisis affect their operations?

Banks are critical in facilitating economic growth by providing loans to businesses, individuals, and real estate ventures. However, due to the crisis, banks face challenges such as reduced loan demand, increased reluctance to lend money, and a slowdown in their core business operations.

5. What could be the potential implications of government intervention in managing the crisis?

The government’s efforts to manage the crisis may face public scrutiny, and there could be mistrust among the public, which might exacerbate the negative impact on the economy and stock market. The success of government intervention will be crucial in determining the future of the banking landscape.

6. Is there any indication of when the banking crisis may be resolved?

As the situation stands, there is no definitive indication of when the banking crisis will be resolved. It depends on various factors, including how effectively the government intervenes, how the Federal Reserve manages interest rates, and how banks respond to evolving economic conditions.

7. How can investor confidence be restored amid the crisis?

Restoring investor confidence will require transparent communication from financial institutions and the government, effective crisis management strategies, and stability in the banking sector. Confidence-building measures that ensure the safety and security of investments and deposits may play a significant role in restoring trust.

8. What can individuals and businesses do to navigate the current banking crisis?

Individuals and businesses should closely monitor the developments in the banking sector, stay informed about the government’s intervention efforts, and make informed financial decisions. Consulting with financial advisors and exploring alternative financing options could also be beneficial during this uncertain period.

9. How will the banking crisis impact the long-term stability of the US economy?

The impact of the banking crisis on the long-term stability of the US economy will largely depend on how the crisis is managed and how quickly the sector can recover. If effective measures are implemented, the economy may regain stability over time. However, prolonged challenges in the banking sector may adversely affect economic growth and overall financial stability.

10. What is the way forward for the US banking sector?

The way forward for the US banking sector involves addressing the key factors contributing to the crisis, such as rising interest rates and tightening lending standards.

Additionally, prudent government intervention and transparent communication will stabilize the sector and rebuild investor confidence. Adaptability and innovation may also play a crucial role in ensuring the resilience of banks in the face of evolving economic conditions.

Conclusion

The recent bank failures and forced mergers in the United States banking sector are a stark reminder that the industry is not yet out of the woods. As interest rates continue to rise and lending standards become stricter, banks’ core business is being challenged, and the corresponding impact on the broader economy and stock market cannot be ignored.

Public scrutiny, investor confidence, and government intervention will all play crucial roles in determining the future of the banking landscape.

Featured Image Credit: Pexels; Thank you!

Taylor Sohns MBA, CIMA®, CFP®

Taylor Sohns MBA, CIMA®, CFP®

Taylor Sohns is the Co-Founder at LifeGoal Wealth Advisors. He received his MBA in Finance. He currently has his Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) and a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). Taylor has spent decades on Wall Street helping create wealth.

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