The banking crisis triggered by the recent collapses of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank is not over yet and will ripple through the economy for years to come, said JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon on Tuesday.
In his closely watched annual letter to shareholders, the chief executive of America’s largest bank outlined the extensive damage the financial system meltdown had on all banks — large and small — and urged lawmakers to think carefully before responding with increased regulation.
“These failures were not good for banks of any size,” wrote Dimon, responding to reports that large financial institution benefited greatly from the collapse of SVB and Signature Bank as wary customers sought safety by moving billions of dollars worth of money to big banks.
In a note last month, Wells Fargo banking analyst Mike Mayo wrote “Goliath is winning.” JPMorgan in particular, he said, was benefiting from more deposits “in these less certain times.”
“Any crisis that damages Americans’ trust in their banks damages all banks — a fact that was known even before this crisis,” he wrote. “While it is true that this bank crisis ‘benefited’ larger banks due to the inflow of deposits they received from smaller institutions, the notion that this meltdown was good for them in any way is absurd.”
The failures of SVB and Signature Bank, he argued, had little to do with banks bypassing regulations. He said that SVB’s high Interest rate exposure and large amount of uninsured deposits were already well-known to both regulators and to the marketplace at large.
Current regulations, he argued, could actually lull banks into complacency without actually addressing real system-wide banking issues. Abiding by these regulations, he wrote, has just “become an enormous, mind-numbingly complex task about crossing t’s and dotting i’s.”
And while regulatory change will almost certainly follow the recent banking crisis, Dimon argued that, “it is extremely important that we avoid knee-jerk, whack-a-mole or politically motivated responses that often result in achieving the opposite of what people intended.” Regulations, he said, are often put in place in one part of the framework but have adverse effects on other areas and just make things more complicated.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has said it will propose new rule changes in May, while the Federal Reserve is currently conducting an internal review to assess what changes should be made. Lawmakers in Congress, including Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, have suggested that new legislation meant to regulate banks is in the works.
But, wrote Dimon, “the debate should not always be about more or less regulation but about what mix of regulations will keep America’s banking system the best in the world.”