Friday, March 24, 2023

Mobile Money And Social Media Made The Bank Runs Unmanageable

bloomberg  |  Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser said mobile apps and consumers’ ability to move millions of dollars with a few clicks of a button mark a sea change for how bankers manage and regulators respond to the risk of bank runs. 

Fraser said the fast demise of Silicon Valley Bank also made it difficult for banks to assess and prepare bids for its assets. Speaking just two weeks after the California-based lender collapsed under the weight of tens of billions of withdrawals by its venture capital clients, Fraser said her firm hopes a buyer will emerge in the coming days.

“It’s a complete game changer from what we’ve seen before,” Fraser said Wednesday in an interview with Carlyle Group Inc. co-founder David Rubenstein at an Economic Club of Washington event. “There were a couple of Tweets and then this thing went down much faster than has happened in history. And frankly I think the regulators did a good job in responding very quickly because normally you have longer to respond to this.”

In the space of just 11 days this month, four banks collapsed, including three regional US lenders and the Swiss financial giant Credit Suisse Group AG. A fifth firm — First Republic Bank — is teetering. Amid the turmoil in global financial markets, stocks have careened wildly and investors have lost billions of dollars.

Citigroup was among 11 banks that joined to provide $30 billion in deposits last week to First Republic, in an effort to shore up the San Francisco-based lender beset by client withdrawals and credit-rating downgrades. Wall Street leaders and US officials are searching for a rescue plan, and are exploring the possibility of government backing to make the firm more attractive to investors or a buyer.

Citigroup isn’t interested in making a bid for First Republic, Fraser said. She declined to comment on the lender’s current state, though she said the company is “actively working through the challenges that they’re facing right now.”

Fraser stressed that the string of bank failures was isolated, noting the biggest US banks remain well capitalized. 

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