Contagion brews amid SVB fallout

Credit Suisse said it would borrow up to 50 billion Swiss francs, or about $54 billion, from the Swiss National Bank to ward off concerns about its financial health.

As the global financial system feels the initial shocks of the Silicon Valley Bank collapse, there is a real fear that the situation will soon worsen after Credit Suisse, the 166-year-old institution that was once an emblem of Swiss pride has been reported to be fighting for its life as a consequence of the bank’s failure.

Investors, fearing that the bank would run out of money, dumped its stock and sent the price of insuring its debt against a default skyrocketing based on the retelling of what happened according to a New York Times report.

After trading closed in Europe on Wednesday, Switzerland’s central bank, the Swiss National Bank, said it would step in and provide support to Credit Suisse “if necessary.”

Early Thursday, Credit Suisse said it would borrow up to 50 billion Swiss francs, or about $54 billion, from the Swiss National Bank to ward off concerns about its financial health.

To keep its head above water, the bank said it would seek to buy back debt of up to 3 billion Swiss francs.

According to the report, the immediate catalyst for a perilous drop in the bank’s stock on Wednesday was a comment by Ammar al-Khudairy, the chairman of the Saudi National Bank, the bank’s largest shareholder.

In a televised interview, Al-Khudairy said the state-owned bank would not put more money into Credit Suisse.

He later clarified that his bank would not go above the 9.9 percent it already owned because of regulatory issues.

Secondary effects to watch out Standard and Poors, however, said Asia-Pacific banks are well-placed to absorb the potential contagion effects emanating from the SVB collapse. “Direct exposures are negligible, and secondary impacts are manageable. Only a significant escalation would be sufficient to change our view,”

S$P Global Ratings’ report “SVB Default And Asia-Pacific Banks: Secondary Effects Are The X-Factor” pointed to “some Japanese banks, which have large holdings of US government bonds are among the most exposed to weakened market sentiment because of SBV,”

The exposures, however, are not to the extent where “we anticipate any imminent rating changes.”

“Of the 18 Asia-Pacific jurisdictions we cover, bank industry risk trends are stable in 17; Australia is the outlier, where the trend is currently positive,” the rating watchdog said.

A key rating factor across the region is continuing depositor and stakeholder confidence.

“Prudent funding and liquidity management will remain integral to rating stability,” according to S&P.

The experience from the pandemic era taught banks a lot about resilience which has become a valuable tool in facing a potential crisis.

S&P said the periods of significant stress over the past 20 or so years had helped the funding and liquidity of Asia-Pacific banks to prove robust.

“Banks emerged relatively unscathed compared with other regions from the global financial crisis that began in 2008, and from the European sovereign debt crisis,” the report indicated.

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