Equities are finding their mojo this morning, rising nicely after yesterday’s lackluster session. Gold and silver are slightly lower, oil is a bit higher, and Treasuries and the dollar are mostly flat.
On the news front...
Questions are being raised in Washington about how Silicon Valley Bank failed. Many fingers are pointing at its primary supervisor, the San Francisco Fed. The Fed’s Vice Chair of Supervision Michael Barr is testifying in Congress for a second day about what went wrong. In an ironic twist, SVB’s CEO Greg Becker sat on the SF Fed’s nine-member board from 2019 right up until the bank failed.
Meanwhile, how did the U.S. banking industry push off the interest rate threat for so long? By using a (legal) “switcheroo” with their balance sheets! As the Federal Reserve raised interest rates sharply and the value of long-term bonds plunged, banks simply moved their bonds from the “available for sale” accounting bucket to the “held to maturity” one.
Voila! Even as those bonds lost value, the declines didn’t count as losses and hurt equity or capital in the usual way. They just showed up in financial statement footnotes. Investors and depositors largely ignored them...until in a flash this year, they didn’t. A handful of banks have now failed due to losses stemming from rising rates, including SVB.
Ready to don an augmented reality headset from Apple (AAPL)? Walk around with information about your surroundings popping up on your glasses, which also allow you to make phone calls or share video of what you’re seeing with someone else? Sounds cool...but apparently, even Apple employees have doubts anyone will use them. Not to mention cough up $3,000 to buy a pair in the first place, according to the New York Times.