Billionaire Bill Ackman has warned that the U.S. economy is “heading for a train wreck” if the government allows the current banking crisis to continue. “Trust and confidence are earned over many years, but can be wiped out in a few days,” he said. “Hopefully, our regulators will get this right.”
Bill Ackman’s Warning
Billionaire Bill Ackman, CEO and portfolio manager of Pershing Square Capital Management, has warned of an incoming train wreck. Pershing Square is a hedge fund management company with approximately $18.5 billion in assets under management. Ackman’s net worth is about $3.4 billion.
Consider recent events impact on the long-term cost of equity capital for non-systemically important banks where you can wake up one day as a shareholder or bondholder and your investment instantly goes to zero.
Systemically important banks (SIBs) are banks that are considered to be so large or complex that their failure could have a significant impact on the financial system and the wider economy. On the Financial Stability Board’s (FSB) 2022 list, there are 30 systemically important banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, HSBC, and the troubled Credit Suisse.
“When combined with the higher cost of debt and deposits due to rising rates, consider what the impact will be on lending rates and our economy,” Ackman continued, warning:
The longer this banking crisis is allowed to continue, the greater the damage to smaller banks and their ability to access low-cost capital. Trust and confidence are earned over many years, but can be wiped out in a few days. I fear we are heading for a train wreck. Hopefully, our regulators will get this right.
The billionaire believes the government should guarantee all bank deposits. On March 22, he tweeted explaining that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s “reassuring comments” the previous day “led the market and depositors to believe that all deposits were now implicitly guaranteed.” He also referenced “a leak” suggesting that Yellen, the Treasury Department, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) “were looking for a way to guarantee all deposits reassured the banking sector and depositors.”
However, Yellen then “walked back yesterday’s implicit support for small banks and depositors, while making it explicit that systemwide deposit guarantees were not being considered,” Ackman’s tweet adds.
“We have gone from implicit support for depositors to Secretary Yellen’s explicit statement today that no guarantee is being considered,” he further opined, noting that the Federal Reserve has raised the federal funds rate to 4.75%-5.00%. “5% is a threshold that makes bank deposits that much less attractive. I would be surprised if deposit outflows don’t accelerate effective immediately,” Ackman cautioned, elaborating:
A temporary systemwide deposit guarantee is needed to stop the bleeding. The longer the uncertainty continues, the more permanent the damage is to the smaller banks, and the more difficult it will be to bring their customers back.
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