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- Before it failed, Silicon Valley Bank was the 16th largest bank in the United States.
- If “16th largest” doesn’t sound that big, consider this: there are around 4,700 FDIC-insured commercial banks operating in America today. (And something like Bank of America — which alone has over 6,000 locations — counts as just ONE bank in that 4,700 figure).
- The failure of Silicon Valley Bank is the second largest in our nation’s entire history, behind only the collapse of Washington Mutual during the 2008 financial crisis.
- And it didn’t stop with Silicon Valley Bank in California. Signature Bank in New York collapsed two days later. That is the third largest bank failure in U.S. history.
Senator Elizabeth Warren explains how we got here in a New York Times op-ed:
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act to protect consumers and ensure that big banks could never again take down the economy and destroy millions of lives. Wall Street chief executives and their armies of lawyers and lobbyists hated this law. They spent millions trying to defeat it, and, when they lost, spent millions more trying to weaken it.
Greg Becker, the chief executive of Silicon Valley Bank, was one of the many high-powered executives who lobbied Congress to weaken the law. In 2018, the big banks won. With support from both parties, President Donald Trump signed a law to roll back critical parts of Dodd-Frank. Regulators, including the Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, then made a bad situation worse, letting financial institutions load up on risk.
These bank failures were entirely avoidable if Congress and the Fed had done their jobs and kept strong banking regulations in place since 2018.
The parts of Dodd-Frank that got rolled back included a requirement that large banks undergo periodic “stress tests” — a measure that very likely could have prevented Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank from collapsing.
Public Citizen fought the rollbacks when they were jammed through in 2018. And we’re calling for immediate legislation to restore these obviously needed elements of Dodd-Frank before our country faces another avoidable banking crisis.
The big banks have shown us — again — that they can’t be trusted to regulate themselves or to operate responsibly without oversight. Pass legislation without delay to restore the commonsense, and obviously needed, provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that were rolled back in 2018.
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- Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen
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