American business magnate Warren Buffett is in touch with senior officials of Joe Biden’s administration as the banking crisis unfolds in the country.
The outreach between Buffett and the Biden administration was reported by the Bloomberg news agency.
The CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc may play to contain the crisis after the failures of Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank, and Silvergate Capital Corp.
Warren Buffett has a long history of stepping in to aid banks in crisis, leveraging his cult investing status and financial heft to restore confidence in the crumbling banking system.
For instance, Bank of America Corp. won a capital injection from Buffett in 2011 after its stock plunged due to losses tied to subprime mortgages. Buffett also threw a $5 billion lifeline to Goldman Sachs Group Inc in the 2008 financial crisis to shore up the bank following Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s collapse.
Berkshire Hathaway holds $147 billion in cash
Representatives for Berkshire and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Officials at the US Treasury Department declined to comment.
US regulators unveiled extraordinary measures to assuage customers last weekend, promising to fully pay out uninsured deposits in the failed banks. Shares in regional banks continued to fall this week on fears the pain would spread.
Biden’s team, wary of political blowback, has moved to orchestrate backstops that do not require direct government spending from taxpayers, including the Federal Reserve’s actions. Big US banks voluntarily deposited US$30 billion to stabilise First Republic Bank this week, a move regulators described as “most welcome.”
Any investment or intervention from Buffett or other figures would continue that playbook, looking to stem the crisis without direct bailouts.
Meanwhile, a coalition of midsize US banks has asked regulators to extend federal insurance to all deposits for the next two years, arguing the guarantee is needed to avoid a wider run on the banks.
“Doing so will immediately halt the exodus of deposits from smaller banks, stabilise the banking sector and greatly reduce chances of more bank failures,” the Mid-Size Bank Coalition of America said in a letter seen by Bloomberg News.
The collapse this month of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank prompted a flood of deposits out of regional lenders and into the nation’s largest banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. Customers spooked by the bank failures were taking refuge in firms seen as too big to fail.
Anonymous sources told Bloomberg that the calls between Buffett and President Biden’s administration have centered around him possibly investing in the regional banking sector.
But they add he is also offering advice to officials about how to weather the storm as officials fear the failures will create a domino effect through the banking system.
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