Since Silvergate Bank, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) or Signature Bank were liquidated, the market has not stopped assessing how far contagion risks can go or how far banks’ weakness can go. Despite the fears triggered at the beginning of the month, the current financial tensions are very different from those of 2008. On this occasion, there are three factors that notably influenced the development of events (and which did not carry so much weight at the time): social networks, technology and regulation .
From the point of view of platforms such as Twitter, they have contributed to propagating and expanding uncertainty. Social networks are a powerful communication channel and impact the reputation of companies and their vision. Likewise, these applications put what is happening in thematic focus, which also impacts the perception of a situation.
“In some tweets, the downfall of Silicon Valley Bank happened much faster than any other time in history,” Jane Fraser, Citi’s chief executive, said at a hearing last week. “Social media is revolutionary, They are a turning point,” he added.
It’s not the only one that highlights the huge impact networks are having in the current banking turmoil. “This is the first banking crisis of the Twitter generation,” Paul Donovan, chief economist at UBS, told CNBC. From his point of view, a company’s reputation is much more relevant than in the past and can outweigh other rational factors. The cases experienced in recent days show that these communication tools can generate situations of greater fragility.
In this sense, the pressure to which banks have been submitted has been enormous. First Republic Bank, saved by the Wall Street bigwigs and the authorities, is down 90% on the stock market in the last month. Furthermore, in just a few days, Credit Suisse stocks plummeted and the UBS bailout was forged. And although, for the moment, risks in Spanish entities are excluded, these have been subject to strong sales in parquet.
Added to the annoyance of social networks is another technological component: the ease of withdraw deposits in just a few seconds. With the implementation of online banking, customers can access their accounts from anywhere and at any time. In case of chaos and uncertainty, it is easy to close an order. Therefore, within minutes or hours, companies can experience significant cash withdrawals. “In a few clicks you can be out,” says Donovan. Therefore, deposit leaks can occur very quickly.
While social media and technology help any crisis unfold almost instantly, there are also more control than 15 years ago. After the Lehman Brothers crisis, the European Union tightened banking regulation, both through supervision and through increased financial stress tests. Likewise, capital requirements are higher and industry leverage is much lower than it was then.
“I don’t buy the argument that systemic risk is rising in the financial sector,” Bob Parker, a consultant for the International Association of Capital Markets, told CNBC. He points out that recent problems have arisen in specific portfolios and in specific cases, which they are not extrapolated for the industry as a whole. An idea that Andrea Enria, chairman of the Supervisory Board of the European Central Bank (ECB), has also insisted on, and which justifies the diversification of deposits in European entities and their liquidity.
Another of the issues that weighed on this occasion is lack of confidence which has led to flight of deposits and imbalances in bank balance sheets. However, if doubts had not gripped the customers of some entities, they would have kept their business. Therefore, not panicking and giving credibility to the sector is relevant to contain more situations like the ones that occurred.
Confidence is essential in finance and, although one should not be complacent, as José Manuel Campa, president of the European Banking Authority (EBA) pointed out last week, the economic situation is far from that of 2008.