‘Banks continue to become increasingly less relevant’: the professor who sees a $2 trillion gap within the financial system predicts a thinning of the herd

May 16, 2024 | blog

Silicon Valley Bank’s failure in March 2023 was a watershed second for the banking sector. The $210 billion collapse was the third-biggest in American historical past, sending shockwaves all through the {industry} and exposing the solvency points created by rising rates of interest. 

Columbia finance professor Tomasz Piskorski is among the main consultants in surveying the post-SVB panorama, as one of many co-authors of a extensively learn 2023 examine estimating a $2 trillion decline in banks’ asset values after the financial tightening of the earlier 12 months. At the Fortune Future of Finance convention in New York City, Piskorski stated the long-term consequence of higher-for-longer rates of interest and new laws will imply banks turning into much less central to the monetary system, as personal credit score and nonbank mortgage lenders resembling Rocket Mortgage decide up the slack.

“Banks continue to become increasingly less relevant, especially smaller-to-mid-sized banks,” Piskorski, Columbia’s Edward S. Gordon Professor of Real Estate, stated Thursday. “Because of consolidation in the banking industry, I predict that in two years, we’ll have much fewer smaller-to-mid-size banks.”

Banks are being pressured to confront new dangers post-pandemic, as tight Fed financial coverage devalues a lot of their loans and actual property holdings. They’re additionally contending with a string of financial institution failures which have uncovered how rapidly a seemingly secure financial institution can go below. Last March, Santa Clara-based SVB collapsed just about in a single day after depositors withdrew $175.4 billion in deposits in a matter of days. 

SVB’s shoppers began pulling their deposits after considerations circulated referring to losses the financial institution sustained on its long-term Treasury holdings, which went underwater after the Fed began mountaineering rates of interest—so-called “duration risk.” SVB merely couldn’t deal with the pace of the financial institution run, requiring the FDIC to step in and repay depositors: A brand new drawback banks are being pressured to deal with.

“Regulations we have around liquidity were written before a time that you could move millions of dollars from a tiny device in your hand while on the subway,” Adrienne Harris, Superintendent of New York State’s Department of Financial Services, the state’s monetary regulator, stated. “You see 20% of deposits leave an institution in four hours. We’ve never seen anything like that before.”

Bank runs apart, the macro situations that led to final 12 months’s financial institution failures haven’t gone away—Piskorski stated there are seemingly many banks going through the identical hidden solvency points as SVB.

“There are quite a few banks in the United States right now that have very similar risk characteristics [to SVB],” Piskorski stated. “[They] have the market value of their assets being less than the face value of their debt…In principle, if the depositors show up, there’s bank runs—unless, of course, regulators step in.”

Commercial actual property has emerged as a key space of concern for banks and regulators. Office buildings’ values have plunged post-pandemic because the rise of distant work has decreased demand for in-person desk house, leaving many banks on the hook for costly actual property loans they signed a decade in the past. They’re being pressured to kick the can down the highway by refinancing at excessive charges, promote their properties for pennies on the greenback, or default. 

Midsize banks are particularly uncovered—they maintain round 40% of their property in CRE loans, in line with Piskorski. That obese publicity has already generated banking flare-ups, resembling New York Community Bank’s emergency bailout in March.

“In general, the banking sector is very stable. Federal regulators did a wonderful job last spring…to contain the contagion that we’ve started to see across the banking sector from SVB and then to Signature [Bank], but there are still risks in the sector at large,” Harris stated. “A lot of regulators, federal and state, are watching commercial real estate very closely.”

Piskorski predicts that as struggling CRE portfolios and length dangers proceed to weigh closely on the banking sector, industry-wide tightening is on the horizon, doubtlessly within the type of consolidation—and new, extra nimble types of lending will decide up the slack. New laws doubtlessly mandating increased capital necessities may even pressure smaller banks to tighten their belts, slicing down on their margins and creating alternatives for personal credit score or nonbank lenders resembling Rocket Mortgage.

“If the regulators decide to crack down, we’ll see further contraction of smaller and mid-size banks,” Piskorski stated. “We’ll see growing [market share for] debt securities and private credit.”

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