Friday, March 17, 2023

Venture Capitalists Dictated The Use Of These Failed Incompetently Run Banks

It was not the venture-capital backed companies that chose or agreed to keep all their deposits at SVB. It was their venture capital investors that forced this arrangement on them, confirmed by a reader: “Speaking as a former customer as dictated by my VCs.” This distinction matters because it puts the locus of influence and favor-trading much higher up the food chain. 

nueberger  | It’s highly possible, one could even say likely, that those massive deposits — Roku alone kept almost half a billion dollars in a single account — were part of a corrupt set of practices by the bank itself and its big-dollar clients.

David Dayen, in an excellent, comprehensive piece, writes: “So you have depositors that either didn’t know the first thing about risk management, or were bribed by the bank into neglecting it.”

Keep in mind who these depositors are: the very very wealthy in the West Coast venture capital world. The corruption didn’t start just with the bank. The VCs often initiated it. As a friend and former Silicon Valley entrepreneur pointed out to me recently:

SVB was a special case. VCs required the companies they funded to keep their cash there. So the companies (and their employees) really were victims, not incompetent at risk management. In exchange the VCs received various favors from the bank. This is how Silicon Valley works behind the scenes. I was in one deal where the lead VC for our funding required a secret kickback of a certain % of the company stock and that this arrangement be kept secret from the firm. This is typical.

Where Does That Leave Us, Part I

Where that leaves us is here: The U.S. banking system, which hasn’t been private in my recent memory, has been officially taken under the wing of the federal government, with every deposited dollar now de facto insured by the FDIC.

To cover these claims, the FDIC normally collects money from the banks receiving the insurance benefit. This means that the covered banks prepay a reasonable amount for a bailout of depositor funds up to $250,000 per account.

What would a “reasonable amount” be to cover all funds on deposit in the U.S.? Are the banks willing to prepay it? Highly unlikely. After all, who’s going to make them? The government they control?

So the federal government has nationalized the banking system, or nationalized its insurance of bank deposits to 100% of risk, all at no new cost to the banks.

What do you think these banks will do next, with that worry off their backs? I hesitate to find out, but I know we’re about to.

Where Does That Leave Us, Part II?

The second “where does that leave us?” leaves the financial realm and enters the political. If Saagar Enjeti is right (see the clip above), the rich decided that taking even a 10% loss (“haircut”) via the normal unwinding process was still too big an ask.

Meanwhile, in East Palestine OH where the working class makes its life, this went on:

With a population of about 5,000 people, there are roughly 2,600 residential properties in East Palestine according to Attom, a property data provider. The average value of a property there in January of this year, prior to the derailment, was $146,000, according to Attom.

Taken together, the value of all residential real estate in the town adds up to about $380 million, including single family homes and multi-family properties.

Those values are only a fraction of the money that Norfolk Southern earns. Last year it reported a record operating income of $4.8 billion, and a net income of $3.3 billion, up about 9% from a year earlier. It had $456 million in cash on hand on its books as of December 31.

It’s been returning much of that profit to shareholders, repurchasing $3.1 billion in shares last year and spending $1.2 billion on dividends. And it announced a 9% increase in dividends just days before the accident.

A year ago its board approved a $10 billion share repurchase plan, and it had the authority to buy $7.5 billion of that remaining on the plan as of December 31. (Emphasis added)

The point couldn’t be more simple. When the wealthy face losses, the government they control bails them out, within days if necessary.

When the rest of us faces losses, we’re on our own. Neither the wealthy who caused the mess nor the government that represent “the people” will step up to the plate.

And it will be this way forever unless force is applied.

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