Photo from Washington College via Wikipedia.
Sheila Bair served as chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) from 2006 to 2011. This week, she was interviewed on the Wall Street Journal’s “Free Expression” podcast. She states that she had still been chair of the FDIC she would have been against the decision on Sunday, March 12, 2023, to declare that Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) as being systemically important. The declaration formed the basis of the decision by the FDIC, the Federal Rerserve, and the Treasure that SVB’s customers with deposits above the normal $250,000 insurance limit would be allowed to withdraw all their funds beginning Monday morning.
She argues that it would have been better to have followed the FDIC’s usual procedure of allowing insured depositors to withdraw their funds and declaring a “dividend” that would have allowed withdrawal of 50 percent of uninsured deposits. As SVB’s assets were sold, uninsured depositors would be able to make additional withdrawals, although because the value of the assets would likely be less than the value of the deposits, uninsured depositors would suffer some losses.
She believes that SVB’s problems were the result of poor management and she doubts that the bank’s uninsured depositors suffering losses would have led to runs on the deposits of other regional banks.
The wide-ranging interview is well worth listening to in full. The podcast can be found here.