Silicon Valley Bank’s Demise Began with Downgrade Threat – Reuters 3/11/23


In the middle of last week, Moody’s Investors Service Inc delivered alarming news to SVB Financial Group (SIVB.O), the parent of Silicon Valley Bank: the ratings firm was preparing to downgrade the bank’s credit.

That phone call, described by two people familiar with the situation, began the process toward Friday’s spectacular collapse of the startup-focused lender, the biggest bank failure since the 2008 financial crisis.

Friday’s collapse sent jitters through global markets and walloped banking stocks. Investors worry that the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate increases to fight inflation are exposing vulnerabilities in the financial system.

Details of SVB’s failed response to the prospect of the downgrade, reported by Reuters for the first time, show how quickly confidence in financial institutions can erode. The failure also sent shockwaves through California’s startup economy, with many companies unsure how much of their deposits they can recover and worrying about how to make payroll.

The Moody’s call came after the value of the bonds where SVB had parked its money fell due to the higher interest rates….

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