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Credit Suisse under siege | Financial Times

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Good morning. On Tuesday, we requested if one other financial institution would fall. We had been fascinated about America, not Europe. But it’s Credit score Suisse that’s teetering. Within the early hours of Thursday morning in Switzerland, the financial institution mentioned it might “pre-emptively” take as much as SFr50bn ($54bn) from the Swiss central financial institution’s just-announced liquidity backstop. The worldwide banking system, all of the sudden, is in play.

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Credit score Suisse

When a financial institution publicizes at 2am native time that it’s borrowing from the federal government, that isn’t signal. In each the US housing disaster and the European sovereign debt disaster that adopted it, bulletins similar to this had been as more likely to stoke worry as to assuage it.

But the lesson of Mario Draghi and “no matter it takes” is that the federal government controls the printing press. A wall of cash, deployed accurately, completely can avert catastrophe. So it’s far too early to jot down an obituary for Credit score Suisse. For all its scandals and errors, it had a robust and liquid steadiness sheet as of Wednesday, and a robust model in wealth administration to go along with it.

Because the FT reported, Credit score Suisse spent Wednesday afternoon reaching out to Swiss authorities to ask for a public assertion of confidence. Round 8pm Zurich time, the assertion got here, reassuring markets that “if needed, the [Swiss National Bank] will present CS with liquidity”. That alone, it appears, was not sufficient. Six hours later, round 2am, Credit score Suisse mentioned it was

taking decisive motion to pre-emptively strengthen its liquidity by aspiring to train its choice to borrow from the Swiss Nationwide Financial institution (SNB) as much as CHF 50 billion beneath a Coated Mortgage Facility in addition to a short-term liquidity facility, that are totally collateralised by prime quality property

The financial institution additionally introduced it might purchase again SFr3bn ($3.2bn) in “senior debt securities.” This seems to be to us like Credit score Suisse signalling to markets that it has the monetary wherewithal to purchase again its distressed debt. The message is: taking liquidity from the SNB is not only a last-ditch effort to save lots of the financial institution; we’re planning for the longer term. This effectively would possibly become true. We’ll study extra at the moment.

Is the Credit score Suisse panic associated to the failure of Silicon Valley Financial institution final week? The 2 companies are extraordinarily totally different, and the losses on long-term securities that fatally wounded SVB don’t seem like an issue at Credit score Suisse.

But the 2 crises are linked. Sooner or later in each central financial institution rate-increase cycle, issues break and other people get scared. That worry seeks a bunch. SVB broke, worry was launched and Credit score Suisse was the softest goal.

Whereas the Swiss financial institution’s steadiness sheet was sturdy, its fame was not. A sequence of scandals, most of them emanating from its government suite and its wobbly funding banking unit, has corroded the model. Its strongest franchise, wealth administration — a enterprise grounded in fame — suffered the implications. Property beneath administration in that division fell by 27 per cent in 2022. Profitability crashed. Worse, the financial institution’s deposits went the identical course, falling by 37 per cent within the fourth quarter alone.

That is how a financial institution profitability downside, in a local weather of worry, can flip into an existential menace.

What would possibly occur subsequent? With the Swiss authorities standing behind Credit score Suisse, it appears extremely unlikely {that a} liquidity shortfall will sink it. This makes a basic financial institution run a lot much less doubtless. However whereas a authorities can present liquidity, it can not present a enterprise mannequin. Depositors and wealth administration shoppers should see a motive to stick with the financial institution. The FT stories that earlier than information of the SNB’s liquidity backstop, JPMorgan analysts thought that ought to the state of affairs worsen,

the probably state of affairs . . . is a sale of the lender to native rival UBS . . . An fairness injection by the SNB can be a risk as is permitting Credit score Suisse to attempt to repair its personal issues by promoting a minority stake in its retail financial institution and utilizing the proceeds to restructure the remainder of the group.

Nevertheless, the JPMorgan analysts mentioned it was unlikely that Credit score Suisse can be allowed to fail due to its significance to the Swiss financial system and Zurich’s standing as a world monetary centre.

We agree that the SNB has the instruments to stop a direct failure, whether or not attributable to a run or one thing else. We additionally agree that the financial institution’s construction would possibly look very totally different in a matter of days or even weeks. We make no predictions. All we all know for sure is that there isn’t a returning to the established order ante. (Armstrong & Wu)

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Video: Credit score Suisse: what subsequent for the crisis-hit financial institution? | FT Movie