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硅谷银行破产案打破大萧条以来实行的银行监管规则

WILL DANIEL
2023-04-04

硅谷银行宣布破产时,初创企业发现90%以上的存款并不在联邦存款保险公司的保险范围内。

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存款保险是富兰克林·罗斯福总统诸多新政计划之一。图片来源:UNDERWOOD ARCHIVES/GETTY IMAGES

上世纪大萧条时期,数百万人陷入贫困,银行遭逢毁灭性倒闭浪潮,总统赫伯特·胡佛整个任期都在疲于应付。1933年2月27日,工作一整天的总统新闻秘书西奥多·乔斯林非常担心自己的钱是否安全。乔斯林在个人日记中写道:“虽然我觉得这样做不爱国,还是取出了支票账户里大部分钱。”他还让妻子取了钱。“我把做的事告诉了总统。他只说了一句话‘西奥多,不用藏钱’……不过我只是暂时‘藏起来’。现在银行完全没有流动性,恐怕一直要持续到恐慌结束。”

当然,这是在存款保险出现之前,存款保险主要是为了在银行倒闭时保护个人储户的资金,本月早些时候硅谷银行(Silicon Valley Bank)突然倒闭,让惊慌失措的初创企业高管在一个世纪后浅尝了大萧条时代的味道。

富兰克林·罗斯福刚把胡佛赶出白宫,就立刻成立了联邦存款保险公司(FDIC),这也是新政的一部分。尤其是1933年改变了行业,也被称为格拉斯-斯蒂格尔法案(Glass-Steagall Act)的《银行法》出台。该法案为推动美国陷入困境的金融系统恢复稳定,通过了一系列改革措施,其中包括设立独立机构联邦存款保险公司,为全国商业银行的存款提供保险。

但1930年代的规定不太适合21世纪20年代,因为湾区的初创公司将数百万美元现金都存在新潮的银行里,风投界的朋友们也都一样:没错,正是硅谷银行。因此,几周前一个星期五硅谷银行宣布破产时,初创企业界恐慌了,他们发现90%以上的存款并不在联邦存款保险公司的保险范围内。

人们开始担心银行挤兑“传染”,因为科技初创公司纷纷警告称发不出工资,风投资本家呼吁客户从硅谷银行和类似地区银行取出资金。专家警告称,金融系统可能存在“系统性风险”,不到48小时联邦监管机构便付诸行动,援引“系统风险例外”后允许联邦存款保险公司、美联储(Federal Reserve)和美国财政部在紧急情况下支持存款。三家监管机构指出,经与总统拜登磋商,才决定对近100年历史的存款保险概念做出重大调整。

如今随着银行业风波不断,一些政客和商界领袖认为应该提高存款保险限额,稍早美国参议院多数党领袖查克·舒默也表示同意。马萨诸塞州参议员伊丽莎白·沃伦等人则希望彻底取消25万美元的上限。

但是,联邦政府为银行存款提供无限担保真是好主意吗?《财富》杂志采访了一系列行业专家,他们表示存款保险限额应该提高,提升到无限高不一定明智。可能有别的解决方法,可以将储户按“层级”划分。

硅谷银行的警钟

管理着130多亿美元的私募股权公司EMG Advisors的首席执行官威尔·麦克多诺告诉《财富》杂志,硅谷银行倒闭证明了25万美元的上限应该更新,或者“更灵活”。他说,如果监管机构没表态支持无保险的储户,他和很多其他高净值人士会“登入所有超过25万美元的银行账户”取出存款,这样会影响银行,而且回导致风险扩散,其实没必要走到那一步。

金融不稳定期间提高存款保险限额已有先例。联邦存款保险公司历史学家称,20世纪80年代初的储蓄贷款危机(与当前危机有一些惊人的相似之处)之后,存款保险限额从4万美元提高到10万美元。2008年大衰退后,《经济稳定紧急法案》(Emergency Economic Stabilization Act)将上限提高到目前的25万美元。

然而,麦克多诺和康拉德·阿尔特都指出,如果出现多家银行倒闭,提高存款保险限额也救不了储户。阿尔特是Klaros集团联合创始人,也是储蓄贷款危机后期参议院银行委员会前法律顾问。

“有什么用吗?也许有一点,但不会很大,”阿尔特告诉《财富》。“当然不是指硅谷银行这类,比较容易估计……不管怎么划定界限,最后都会发现很大一部分存款没在保险范围内。”

拯救硅谷银行之后,关于提高存款保险限额的争论可能已经失去意义,本周财政部部长珍妮特·耶伦暗示,即使再出现银行倒闭,未保险的存款仍会获得保护。麦克多诺认为,从监管机构的言行来看,美国已经存在准“无限存款保险”。

但在高盛集团(Goldman Sachs)首席经济学家兼全球投资研究主管简·哈祖斯看来,监管机构最近的行动“仍没有为所有储户提供明确的担保”。

“我们认为,对所有存款进行明确担保将进一步加剧银行压力,可能会导致其他银行倒闭,”他在3月22日的一份研究报告中写道。

哈祖斯补充说,国会短期内提高存款保险限额或确立无限存款担保的可能性“相当低”,中期内“可能性更高”。跟《财富》杂志采访的其他专家一样,这位经济学家也警告称,提高存款限额“不太可能解决当前金融市场面临的更严重问题”。

潜在的解决方案

如果提高存款保险限额甚至完全取消存款保险限额都没法解决银行的问题,到底怎样才能解决?Klaros的康拉德·阿尔特认为,在保险方面为“不同类型的存款”划定“明确区别”可能有效。阿尔特非常熟悉这一领域,因为他是负责起草1991年《联邦存款保险公司改进法》(FDIC Improvement Act)的立法人员之一,该法案增强了联邦存款保险公司的权力,允许向财政部借款,并强制规定采用对纳税人“成本最低的方式”解决破产银行的问题。

“现在看看联邦法律,至少从存款保险的角度来看,大致只区分零售存款和经纪人存款。其他方面没什么区别,”他指出。

阿尔特认为,与一些大企业其他形式的商业存款相比,消费者存款应该获得不同的待遇,由联邦存款保险公司提供更多保护。他也明确指出,要做到这一点并不能只是简单地支持消费者存款,不支持企业存款。

现在硅谷和很多银行面临的问题是,一些储户实际上是为其用户管理大型FBO(无息)账户的金融科技公司。FBO账户是一种伞式信托账户,将多个用户的资产合并在一家公司控制下。

阿尔特举了支付业务的例子说明,该业务允许用户通过应用快速转账。此类公司会推销服务,与客户签约,然后将客户的钱存入类似硅谷银行的FBO账户。

“但硅谷银行甚至不知道客户是谁。客户也不一定很清楚自己在使用硅谷银行的服务,”他指出。

阿尔特表示,此类模式的问题在于扰乱了联邦存款保险公司的保险。金融科技产品的用户主要是在银行开设小账户的个人储户,然而保管他们资金的FBO账户可能金额达数百万甚至数十亿美元,联邦存款保险公司又只能覆盖25万美元,最后导致个人储户的资金无法得到保护。

这意味着,一家银行倒闭时,“很多个人储户能够获得的保障可能接近零,”阿尔特说。创建不同层级的账户,各自账户获得对应保险,就可以解决该问题。其中大部分可以获得全额保险,另一些获得部分保险,还有一些则根本没有。阿尔特表示,这一标记过程可以帮助监管机构分割出对消费者或企业至关重要的大型账户,对其采取保护措施,不必覆盖系统重要性较低的账户。

“我认为这会成为有趣的公共政策辩论,但需要国会的法案推动,”他说。(财富中文网)

译者:夏林

上世纪大萧条时期,数百万人陷入贫困,银行遭逢毁灭性倒闭浪潮,总统赫伯特·胡佛整个任期都在疲于应付。1933年2月27日,工作一整天的总统新闻秘书西奥多·乔斯林非常担心自己的钱是否安全。乔斯林在个人日记中写道:“虽然我觉得这样做不爱国,还是取出了支票账户里大部分钱。”他还让妻子取了钱。“我把做的事告诉了总统。他只说了一句话‘西奥多,不用藏钱’……不过我只是暂时‘藏起来’。现在银行完全没有流动性,恐怕一直要持续到恐慌结束。”

当然,这是在存款保险出现之前,存款保险主要是为了在银行倒闭时保护个人储户的资金,本月早些时候硅谷银行(Silicon Valley Bank)突然倒闭,让惊慌失措的初创企业高管在一个世纪后浅尝了大萧条时代的味道。

富兰克林·罗斯福刚把胡佛赶出白宫,就立刻成立了联邦存款保险公司(FDIC),这也是新政的一部分。尤其是1933年改变了行业,也被称为格拉斯-斯蒂格尔法案(Glass-Steagall Act)的《银行法》出台。该法案为推动美国陷入困境的金融系统恢复稳定,通过了一系列改革措施,其中包括设立独立机构联邦存款保险公司,为全国商业银行的存款提供保险。

但1930年代的规定不太适合21世纪20年代,因为湾区的初创公司将数百万美元现金都存在新潮的银行里,风投界的朋友们也都一样:没错,正是硅谷银行。因此,几周前一个星期五硅谷银行宣布破产时,初创企业界恐慌了,他们发现90%以上的存款并不在联邦存款保险公司的保险范围内。

人们开始担心银行挤兑“传染”,因为科技初创公司纷纷警告称发不出工资,风投资本家呼吁客户从硅谷银行和类似地区银行取出资金。专家警告称,金融系统可能存在“系统性风险”,不到48小时联邦监管机构便付诸行动,援引“系统风险例外”后允许联邦存款保险公司、美联储(Federal Reserve)和美国财政部在紧急情况下支持存款。三家监管机构指出,经与总统拜登磋商,才决定对近100年历史的存款保险概念做出重大调整。

如今随着银行业风波不断,一些政客和商界领袖认为应该提高存款保险限额,稍早美国参议院多数党领袖查克·舒默也表示同意。马萨诸塞州参议员伊丽莎白·沃伦等人则希望彻底取消25万美元的上限。

但是,联邦政府为银行存款提供无限担保真是好主意吗?《财富》杂志采访了一系列行业专家,他们表示存款保险限额应该提高,提升到无限高不一定明智。可能有别的解决方法,可以将储户按“层级”划分。

硅谷银行的警钟

管理着130多亿美元的私募股权公司EMG Advisors的首席执行官威尔·麦克多诺告诉《财富》杂志,硅谷银行倒闭证明了25万美元的上限应该更新,或者“更灵活”。他说,如果监管机构没表态支持无保险的储户,他和很多其他高净值人士会“登入所有超过25万美元的银行账户”取出存款,这样会影响银行,而且回导致风险扩散,其实没必要走到那一步。

金融不稳定期间提高存款保险限额已有先例。联邦存款保险公司历史学家称,20世纪80年代初的储蓄贷款危机(与当前危机有一些惊人的相似之处)之后,存款保险限额从4万美元提高到10万美元。2008年大衰退后,《经济稳定紧急法案》(Emergency Economic Stabilization Act)将上限提高到目前的25万美元。

然而,麦克多诺和康拉德·阿尔特都指出,如果出现多家银行倒闭,提高存款保险限额也救不了储户。阿尔特是Klaros集团联合创始人,也是储蓄贷款危机后期参议院银行委员会前法律顾问。

“有什么用吗?也许有一点,但不会很大,”阿尔特告诉《财富》。“当然不是指硅谷银行这类,比较容易估计……不管怎么划定界限,最后都会发现很大一部分存款没在保险范围内。”

拯救硅谷银行之后,关于提高存款保险限额的争论可能已经失去意义,本周财政部部长珍妮特·耶伦暗示,即使再出现银行倒闭,未保险的存款仍会获得保护。麦克多诺认为,从监管机构的言行来看,美国已经存在准“无限存款保险”。

但在高盛集团(Goldman Sachs)首席经济学家兼全球投资研究主管简·哈祖斯看来,监管机构最近的行动“仍没有为所有储户提供明确的担保”。

“我们认为,对所有存款进行明确担保将进一步加剧银行压力,可能会导致其他银行倒闭,”他在3月22日的一份研究报告中写道。

哈祖斯补充说,国会短期内提高存款保险限额或确立无限存款担保的可能性“相当低”,中期内“可能性更高”。跟《财富》杂志采访的其他专家一样,这位经济学家也警告称,提高存款限额“不太可能解决当前金融市场面临的更严重问题”。

潜在的解决方案

如果提高存款保险限额甚至完全取消存款保险限额都没法解决银行的问题,到底怎样才能解决?Klaros的康拉德·阿尔特认为,在保险方面为“不同类型的存款”划定“明确区别”可能有效。阿尔特非常熟悉这一领域,因为他是负责起草1991年《联邦存款保险公司改进法》(FDIC Improvement Act)的立法人员之一,该法案增强了联邦存款保险公司的权力,允许向财政部借款,并强制规定采用对纳税人“成本最低的方式”解决破产银行的问题。

“现在看看联邦法律,至少从存款保险的角度来看,大致只区分零售存款和经纪人存款。其他方面没什么区别,”他指出。

阿尔特认为,与一些大企业其他形式的商业存款相比,消费者存款应该获得不同的待遇,由联邦存款保险公司提供更多保护。他也明确指出,要做到这一点并不能只是简单地支持消费者存款,不支持企业存款。

现在硅谷和很多银行面临的问题是,一些储户实际上是为其用户管理大型FBO(无息)账户的金融科技公司。FBO账户是一种伞式信托账户,将多个用户的资产合并在一家公司控制下。

阿尔特举了支付业务的例子说明,该业务允许用户通过应用快速转账。此类公司会推销服务,与客户签约,然后将客户的钱存入类似硅谷银行的FBO账户。

“但硅谷银行甚至不知道客户是谁。客户也不一定很清楚自己在使用硅谷银行的服务,”他指出。

阿尔特表示,此类模式的问题在于扰乱了联邦存款保险公司的保险。金融科技产品的用户主要是在银行开设小账户的个人储户,然而保管他们资金的FBO账户可能金额达数百万甚至数十亿美元,联邦存款保险公司又只能覆盖25万美元,最后导致个人储户的资金无法得到保护。

这意味着,一家银行倒闭时,“很多个人储户能够获得的保障可能接近零,”阿尔特说。创建不同层级的账户,各自账户获得对应保险,就可以解决该问题。其中大部分可以获得全额保险,另一些获得部分保险,还有一些则根本没有。阿尔特表示,这一标记过程可以帮助监管机构分割出对消费者或企业至关重要的大型账户,对其采取保护措施,不必覆盖系统重要性较低的账户。

“我认为这会成为有趣的公共政策辩论,但需要国会的法案推动,”他说。(财富中文网)

译者:夏林

On Feb. 27, 1933, as Herbert Hoover struggled to combat the Great Depression that had plunged millions into poverty and caused a devastating wave of bank failures throughout his presidency, his press secretary Theodore Joslin came home after a long day and was worried about his money. “[A]lthough I felt unpatriotic in doing so, I drew out most of the money in my checking account,” Joslin wrote in his personal diary, noting he instructed his wife to do the same. “And I told the President what I had done. ‘Don’t hoard it, Ted,’ was his only comment … But I am ‘hoarding’ temporarily. No bank is really liquid today and won’t be until this panic is over.”

Of course, that was a time before deposit insurance, which is meant to preserve the funds of individuals who invest their savings with banks in the event of a failure, but the sudden collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) earlier this month brought a small taste of that era to panicked startup executives, nearly a century later.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was created almost as soon as Franklin Roosevelt swept Hoover out of the White House, as part of his New Deal in general and in particular, the game-changing Banking Act of 1933, also known as Glass-Steagall. Conceived as a way to restore stability to the nation’s ailing financial system, it passed a host of reforms including the establishment of the FDIC as an independent agency to insure deposits at commercial banks across the country.

But this regulation from the 1930s doesn’t quite fit the 2020s, when Bay Area startups park millions worth of company cash at the trendy bank that all their friends in venture capital also use: That’s right, Silicon Valley Bank. So when SVB went under on a Friday just a few weeks ago, the startup community panicked as it realized that over 90% of its deposits weren’t covered by FDIC insurance.

That led to fears of bank run “contagion” as tech startups warned they wouldn’t be able to make payroll and venture capitalists called for their clients to withdraw their funds from SVB and similar regional lenders. Experts warned of potential “systemic risk” for the financial system and within 48 hours, federal regulators agreed, invoking a “systemic risk exception” that allowed the FDIC, Federal Reserve and Treasury Department to backstop all deposits on an emergency basis. The three regulators noted that they conferred directly with President Joe Biden before making this dramatic change to the nearly 100-year-old concept of deposit insurance.

Now, in the wake of this banking instability, a number of politicians and business leaders believe the deposit insurance limit should be raised, including, earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. And some, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, want to get rid of the $250,000 cap altogether.

But is it really a good idea for the federal government to give out an unlimited guarantee for all deposits in the banking system? Fortune talked to a range of industry experts who said the deposit insurance limit should be raised, but to infinity is another matter entirely. There might be another way, though—creating different “classes” of depositors.

A Silicon Valley Bank wake-up call

Will McDonough, CEO of EMG Advisors, a private equity firm that manages over $13 billion, told Fortune that SVB’s collapse was evidence that the $250,000 cap should either be updated or “more fluid.” He said that if regulators hadn’t stepped in to back uninsured depositors, he and many other high-net-worth individuals like him would have “gone into any bank account I had over $250,000” and started withdrawing, which harms institutions and actually spreads risk, on top of being unnecessary.

There is precedent for raising the deposit limit in the wake of financial instability. After the Savings and Loans (S&L) Crisis of the early 1980s—which has some uncanny parallels to today’s crisis—the deposit insurance limit was raised from $40,000 to $100,000, according to FDIC historians. And in 2008, after the Great Recession, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) raised the limit to its current $250,000.

However, both McDonough and Konrad Alt, co-founder of Klaros Group and a former Counsel to the Senate Banking Committee during the later stages S&L crisis, noted that raising the deposit limit won’t be enough to save depositors at many banks if they fail.

“Would it make a difference? Maybe a little bit, but not a lot,” Alt told Fortune. “Certainly not at a bank like Silicon Valley Bank where I would venture to guess … no matter where you draw that line, you’re gonna find that a large proportion of deposits would still have been uninsured.”

And the argument over raising the deposit insurance limit might be a moot point after the rescue of SVB, along with comments from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen this week implying that uninsured deposits will be protected even at small banks in the event of another failure. McDonough argued that regulators’ words and actions signal that a form of quasi “unlimited deposit insurance” already exists in the U.S.

But Jan Hatzius, Goldman Sachs’ chief economist and head of Global Investment Research, said he believes regulators’ recent actions “still stop short of an explicit guarantee” for all depositors.

“In our view, an explicit guarantee of all deposits would take further intensification of bank stress, potentially involving another bank failure,” he wrote in a Wednesday research note.

Hatizus added that he believes there is a “fairly low” chance that Congress will increase the deposit insurance limit or create an unlimited deposit guarantee in the near term, but “the odds are higher” over the medium term. And like all the experts Fortune spoke with, the economist also warned that raising the deposit limit is “unlikely to address the more acute concerns currently facing financial markets.”

A potential solution

If raising the deposit insurance limit or even removing it altogether won’t fix banks’ problems, what will? Klaros’ Konrad Alt argued “differentiating more” between “different kinds of deposits” when it comes to insurance could do the trick. Alt knows whereof he speaks, as he was a part of the legislative staff that drafted the FDIC Improvement Act of 1991, which strengthened the power of the FDIC, allowed it to borrow from the Treasury, and forced failed banks to be resolved using “the least costly method available” to taxpayers.

“If you look at federal law right now, at least for deposit insurance purposes, it mostly distinguishes between retail deposits and broker deposits. There’s not a lot of other distinctions,” he noted.

Alt believes that consumer deposits should be treated differently—and given more FDIC protection—than other forms of commercial deposits from some large businesses. But he also made it clear that it’s not as easy as simply backing all consumer deposits and not backing businesses’ deposits.

The problem with SVB, and many banks these days, is that some depositors are actually fintech companies managing large FBO, or For Benefit Of, accounts for their users. FBO accounts are a type of umbrella fiduciary account that combines assets from multiple users under the control of one company.

Alt gave the example of a payments business that allows users to transfer money quickly via an app. A company like this would market its services, sign up customers, and then take their money and put it into a FBO account at a bank like SVB.

“But Silicon Valley Bank doesn’t even know who my customers are. And my customers aren’t necessarily very aware they are using Silicon Valley Bank,” he noted.

The problem with this model is it disrupts FDIC insurance, according to Alt. Users of fintech products are essentially individual depositors with small accounts at a bank, but their deposits aren’t protected because the FBO accounts that hold their funds could have millions or even billions of dollars in them, which the FDIC would subject to a $250,000 insurance limit.

This means that when a bank fails, the “effective insurance available to those depositors is likely to be near zero,” Alt said. Creating different classes of accounts, each with their own insurance status, could fix this issue. Most of these would be fully insured, others partially, and some not at all. Alt said this labeling process could enable regulators to isolate large accounts that are critical to consumers or businesses and protect them, without having to cover all of the less systemically important accounts.

“I think that that would be an interesting public policy debate to have, but it would require an act of Congress,” he said.

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