Jerome Powell has way too much faith in U.S. bank security

Jerome Powell has way too much faith in U.S. bank security


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  • Jerome Powell and other U.S. officials believe bad commercial real estate loans will cause some bank failures but won’t jeopardize the overall system.
  • The Fed is in talks with lenders to manage potential losses, echoing Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s sentiment that the situation is manageable.
  • High concentrations of commercial real estate loans, especially in office and retail, are being closely monitored, with a focus on preventing failures among major banks.

Jerome Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, seems to be putting a heck of a lot of trust in the resilience and security of U.S. banks, especially when it comes to the shaky ground of commercial real estate loans. While it’s like Powell and a parade of U.S. officials are singing from the same hymn sheet, claiming these troubled loans won’t bring the house down, you’ve got to wonder if their optimism is a bit overcooked. Know what I’m saying?

Powell, addressing the Senate Banking Committee, let slip that the Fed is buddy-buddy with lenders, checking in to ensure they’ve got a handle on potential losses. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen spoke last month with a similar tune, saying, “Yeah, some banks might hit the dust, but it’s nothing we can’t handle.”

Powell dropped a hint that they’ve got their eyes on banks drowning in commercial real estate loans, particularly those tied up in office and retail spaces that have taken a hit. Basically, what he’s saying is that while some banks may crumble, the giants will stand tall. Yet, as financial watchdogs have been barking about all the dangers in the commercial real estate sector, you’ve got to ask, is this hyped up vigilance enough?

Take New York Community Bancorp (NYCB) for instance, a player that recently danced on the edge of disaster. Fueled by jittery knees over its huge pile of apartment loans in New York, NYCB found itself in a a lot of trouble. Enter stage left, former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, waving around a billion-dollar lifeline that steadied the ship.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) piped up to say that non-current loans for non-owner occupied commercial real estate have hit a peak not seen since 2014. Even though he’s talking up the strength of the banking industry, he’s not turning a blind eye to the cracks appearing, especially when it comes to office space loans.

But just when you thought it couldn’t get more twisted, the FDIC throws out a zinger – the count of U.S. banks walking a tightrope has shot up by 18%. Thanks to Mnuchin’s billion-dollar heroics, NYCB might have dodged being a statistic this time, but its recent wobbles serve as a stark reminder of the underlying fragility in some corners of the banking sector. It’s been a year since Silicon Valley Bank’s fall nearly crashed the entirety of regional banking, yet here we are, still talking about instability.

And let’s not forget the boogeyman of high interest rates, which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warns could sucker punch U.S. banks by dragging down the value of commercial properties. Those gleaming office towers that were once the crown jewels of real estate portfolios are now financial anchors, dragging down balance sheets into the abyss. The trend toward remote work isn’t helping, leaving vast swathes of office space collecting dust and doubts.

The IMF is pointing out that majority of banks are teetering on the brink, with the specter of one failure potentially kicking off a domino effect of lost confidence. And it’s not just the physical assets that are causing sleepless nights. The cocktail of high interest rates and credit risk, particularly from exposure to commercial real estate, is stirring up a storm of investor anxiety.

S&P’s analysts are also sounding the alarm, suggesting that the rising tide of debt bills could trigger a cascade of corporate collapses. Many companies, riding high on the dream of low interest rates forever, are now facing the harsh reality that refinancing their debts might not be so easy if rates only nudge downward. It’s possible that this will lead to more bankruptcies, making it even harder for banks to survive.

Disclaimer: The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decision.

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Jai Hamid

Jai Hamid is a passionate writer with a keen interest in blockchain technology, the global economy, and literature. She dedicates most of her time to exploring the transformative potential of crypto and the dynamics of worldwide economic trends.

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