Bank on It: Silicon Valley Bank and the Banking Crisis

By Richard Young | Posted March 20, 2023

History rather dubiously records early 20th century thief Willie Sutton being asked, “Why do you rob banks?”

“Because,” Sutton supposedly replied, “that’s where the money is.

However doubtful the citation, the actual quote nonetheless rings true. So what happens when you wake up one day to discover that your bank is about to go bust?

On March 8, both investors and customers of Silicon Valley Bank, which, over the past 40 years, had made a name for itself as “one of the most prominent lenders in the start-up ecosystem,” were alarmed at sudden news of the bank’s shaky footing. As The New York Times reported, “The bank disclosed that it had sold off $21 billion of its most liquid, or easily tradable, investments; borrowed $15 billion; and organized an emergency sale of its stock to raise cash. Banks are loath to take any of those steps—let alone all three at once.”

These telltale signs prompted a fateful chain of events. “Investors rushed to sell shares”; more and more customers began to withdraw their money. March 9 saw “a total attempted withdrawals of $42 billion,” resulting in a run on the bank. On March 10, Silicon Valley Bank collapsed.

In the aftermath, the entire banking community is dealing with the shockwaves, from narrowly stopping a domino effect of collapsing lenders to the loss of billions of dollars in stocks around the world.

Governments to the Rescue?

Silicon Valley Bank, headquartered in Santa Clara, California, had 17 branches throughout California and Massachusetts. After a growth spurt “during and after” the COVID-19 pandemic, it became the 16th largest bank in the United States, sitting pretty with “approximately $209.0 billion in total assets and about $175.4 billion in total deposits” at the end of 2022. Investopedia states that “according to the company’s website, 44% of the venture-backed technology and health care initial public offerings (IPOs) in 2022 were clients of Silicon Valley Bank.”

And yet, the lender failed spectacularly only months later, in what is now notoriously known as “the largest bank crash since the 2008 financial crisis.” The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, a government agency created for just such a type of situation, also ended up becoming the receiver, which means that it has basically taken responsibility of Silicon Valley Bank, similar to a trustee. While normally only insuring deposits up to $250,000, ultimately, in a move to stabilize a mounting unstable economy, the FDIC arranged for all customers to be compensated for all money held by Silicon Valley Bank.

But that’s not all. On March 12, the Fed also swooped in to save another bank, Signature Bank, from a run on with eerie similarities. Some say the move was premature, collateral damage from the “contagion from SVB.” Heading into the new year, Signature was looking healthy, just like Silicon Valley: It “had 40 branches, assets of $110.36 billion and deposits of $88.59 billion.” But just like that, in a matter of days, Signature became “the third-largest bank failure in U.S. history.”

Several days later came the downfall of Credit Suisse, whose “shares … tumbled by 24 percent, a record low,” on March 15. In response, the Swiss government stepped in, resulting in Switzerland’s central bank, Swiss National Bank, lending money to the nation’s largest bank, UBS, so that it could buy out Credit Suisse for a whopping $3.2 billion.

Final Financial Crisis

This one short week brought quite a scare to the world banking system as a whole. In the imminent future, what more might we see in the duration of just a few short days?

According to Revelation, economics are going to play a big role in the last-day crises leading up to the Second Coming, when a boycott of worldwide proportions prohibits “those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12) from buying and selling (13:16, 17). At that point there will be no government and no bank to bail out the people of God.

No, instead we are to rely solely on our true Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. As Jesus once said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21).

Is your heart with the treasure houses of the world that could fall in a day and without warning? Interestingly, Revelation foretells of the corrupt system known as Babylon, with whom “the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury” (18:3), which will collapse at the end of the world. It furthermore says that the nations of the world, “the kings of the earth[,] who … lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her” (v. 9).

These verses spell out a future in which the entire world is embroiled. It warns that all the money in the world cannot guarantee you security, that all the world’s systems—even mighty Babylon—will, one day, fail. Have not the recent events of our great and intricate global economy exposed parts of this tenuous weakness? Are you curious about this spiritual Babylon described in the final chapters of Revelation? Learn more about this mysterious conglomerate in “The Doomsday of Babylon.

And in “Predestination, Free Will, and Security,” find out why Christ—and only Christ—can give you the fail-safe security of eternal life. Know why you can bank on Christ’s promise of salvation!

Richard Young
Richard Young is a writer for Amazing Facts International and other online and print publications.

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