from Morning Brew
Another weekend, another mad scramble to prevent a banking crisis.
Just one week after US officials raced to backstop Silicon Valley Bank depositors, Swiss authorities sprinted to engineer a takeover of spiraling Credit Suisse before the markets opened on Monday.
They got it done: Swiss banking giant UBS will buy its rival Credit Suisse for more than $3 billion in a historic tie-up of the country’s storied banks. It’s one of the most significant banking events in years, marking the first merger between systemically important global banks since the 2008 financial crisis.
How we got here: Credit Suisse had experienced massive outflows last week (up to $10 billion per day, according to the WSJ) and was teetering on collapse. An uncontrolled implosion of Credit Suisse would have had “incalculable consequences for the country and the international financial system,” Swiss President Alain Berset said. In other words, if Credit Suisse came crashing down, it would have brought many others with it.
UBS didn’t exactly volunteer as tribute
Understanding the market calamity that would’ve occurred otherwise, Swiss regulators essentially forced UBS to go through with this purchase and offered the bank $108.8 billion in liquidity as a way of saying “thanks for preventing a global financial crisis .”
For Credit Suisse, it’s an inglorious end. The iconic financial institution had been badly mismanaged for years, and its measly sale price reflects its fall from grace. Valued at ~$8.5 billion at market close on Friday, Credit Suisse sold for significantly less than half of that.
- To put the price tag in perspective, Crocs is worth more than twice as much as what Credit Suisse was bought for.
- No disrespect to Crocs, but Credit Suisse has been around for 166 years and had $574 billion in total assets at the end of 2022. This is a stunning collapse of a once-revered bank.
So, what’s it all mean? Just like US authorities did last weekend, Swiss regulators moved rapidly to nip a spiraling crisis in the bud, employing a “let’s do what needs to be done and worry about the consequences later” approach. It’s unclear whether these last-ditch government efforts will shore up confidence in a sector that’s had its world turned upside down in less than two weeks.