How the Silicon Valley Bank collapse compares to other major collapses

A bar chart of U.S. bank failures since 2001, showing that the Silicon Valley Bank collapse was the second-largest in U.S. history by asset value.

bank failures in each

year after total assets

bank failures in each

year after total assets

Silicon Valley Bank on Friday became the largest American bank to fail since the collapse of Washington Mutual in 2008 at the height of the global financial crisis.

The implosion of Washington Mutual and investment banks Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns was followed by a system-wide collapse. From 2008 to 2015, more than 500 federally insured banks went bust.

Most were small or medium-sized regional banks and were taken over by other institutions, a usual result for banks placed under state control. Washington Mutual, which was heavily involved in risky mortgages and became the largest bank to fail in US history, was sold to JPMorgan Chase.

Fewer banks have failed in recent years, also thanks to stricter regulations introduced in the wake of the financial crisis. Before Silicon Valley Bank, the last company failed in late 2020 as the coronavirus swept the country.

It’s unclear whether the Silicon Valley bank collapse will spill over into the broader industry. Best known for its lending to tech and healthcare startups, the bank had $209 billion in assets at the end of last year — making it the 16th-largest bank in the country. But that’s still little compared to the top 3, which each hold more than $1 trillion and have much more diversified business models and customer bases.

A bar chart listing the 20 largest US banks by assets at the end of 2022. Silicon Valley Bank ranks 16th.

Largest US banks by total assets

State Street Bank and Trust

Morgan Stanley Private Bank

Largest United States

banks through

total assets

State Street Bank and Trust

Morgan Stanley Private Bank

The regulation put in place for the country’s largest banks after the financial crisis includes strict capital requirements, meaning they must have a certain amount of crisis-time reserves, as well as provisions on how diversified their businesses must be.

But Silicon Valley Bank and other banks of its size don’t have the same level of regulatory oversight. In 2018, President Donald J. Trump signed legislation that reduced control for many regional banks. Silicon Valley Bank CEO Greg Becker was a strong supporter of the move. Among other things, it changed the requirements for the amount of cash these banks had to hold on their balance sheets to protect against shocks.

On Friday, as Silicon Valley Bank halted trading and the federal government began to take over its operations, several other mid-sized institutions began to feel the brunt of the collapse.

Shares in banks First Republic and Signature fell on Friday, with Signature down nearly 23 percent by the close of trading. The S&P 500 fell 1.4 percent on Friday to end the week down 4.5 percent — its worst weekly performance of the year.

However, some of the country’s largest Wall Street companies, including JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Citigroup, saw their shares rise.

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