Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said on Sunday that regulators were working throughout the weekend to deal with the fallout from the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank but tried to assure the public that the American banking system is “safe and well capitalized.”
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said on Friday that it would take over Silicon Valley Bank, putting nearly $175 billion in customer deposits under the regulator’s control. The bank’s failure, the second largest in U.S. history, has raised concerns that other financial firms could suffer the same fate as rising interest rates put pressure on the banking sector.
Ms. Yellen, speaking on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” would not say what steps regulators might take to protect depositors, including many whose funds are now frozen at the bank. But she said she was mindful that many small businesses are counting on funds held at Silicon Valley Bank and that regulators are working to address those concerns.
The Treasury secretary suggested that an acquisition of Silicon Valley Bank is one of a range of possible outcomes and that regulators are trying to address the situation “in a timely way.”
She said she did not believe that the problems that the technology sector has been dealing with in recent months, such as layoffs, are “at the heart” of the problems at Silicon Valley Bank.
In an attempt to calm a nervous public, Ms. Yellen described the banking system as “resilient” following the financial crisis of 2008 and the early days of the pandemic.
“We’re very aware of the problems depositors have, many of them are small businesses that employ people across the country and of course this is a significant concern and we’re working with regulators to try to address these concerns,” Ms. Yellen said.
The Treasury secretary said that the next steps would ultimately be up to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which took over the bank on Friday. The F.D.I.C. said the bank would be operating by Monday and that checks issued by the old bank would continue to clear. While customers with deposits of up to $250,000 — the maximum covered by F.D.I.C. insurance — will be made whole, there’s no guarantee that depositors with larger amounts in their accounts will get all of their money back.
In the interview, Ms. Yellen emphasized the strength of the United States economy and tried to allay concerns about the banking system that might cause Americans to fear that their money is not safe.
“Americans need to feel confident that the banking system is safe and sound, that it can meet the credit needs of households and businesses and that depositors don’t have to worry about losing access to their money,” Ms. Yellen said. “Those are goals that we all embrace.”