Yellen says government stemmed contagion in wake of SVB but reform now needed

Treasury Secretary signals review of regulatory regime in wake of bank failures, and possible extension of backstops.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said “we will need to re-examine our current regulatory and supervisory regimes and consider whether they are appropriate for the risks that banks face today” in remarks to the American Bankers Association.

Speaking Tuesday in Washington DC, Yellen also outlined why the federal government thought it was necessary to step in to stem contagion in the wake of the collapse of SVB, and what further measures it was prepared to take.

She said the intervention “was necessary to protect the broader US banking system”. And she made it clear the government was prepared to backstop more deposits at the nation’s small and mid-size institutions if it judged it necessary. “Large banks play an important role in our economy, but so do small- and mid-sized banks,” she said.

Yellen said that “While we don’t yet have all the details about the collapse of the two banks, we do know that the recent developments are very different than those of the Global Financial Crisis”. Her view is that the system is “significantly stronger than it was 15 years ago” due to “post-crisis reforms that provided stronger capital standards, among other important improvements”.

She made clear that “our actions reduced the risk of further bank failures that would have imposed losses on the Deposit Insurance Fund, which is paid for through fees on insured banks”. But she was also clear that, “In the coming weeks, it will be vital for us to get a full accounting of exactly what happened in these bank failures”.