A timeline of the Silicon Valley Bank collapse

Silicon Valley Bank attracted deposits from startup firms in the tech industry.

March 14, 2023, 11:40 AM

Silicon Valley Bank, a regional lender with $210 billion in assets, served the tech industry for 40 years. It collapsed in two days, marking the largest bank failure since the 2008 financial crisis.

Two days after that came the fall of Signature Bank, the nation's 29th-largest bank, suggesting that the banking crisis had spread.

In response, the U.S. government took rapid and extraordinary steps to protect the financial system.

Still, many bank stocks plummeted at the outset of this week, as the ultimate resolution of the emergency remained uncertain.

Below is a timeline of the Silicon Valley Bank collapse, the spread of concern across the financial system and the effort to contain the economic fallout.

2020 to 2022 – Silicon Valley Bank's deposit base, which draws heavily from startup firms in the tech industry, tripled in size during the pandemic-era tech boom.

Rather than invest all of the deposits into other startups or venture firms, the bank placed a sizable share of the funds into long-term Treasury bonds and mortgage bonds, which typically deliver small but reliable returns amid low interest rates.

March 8 – Silicon Valley Bank announced a $1.8 billion loss on the sale of securities, including the Treasury and mortgage bonds, which had lost significant value over the previous year due to an aggressive series of interest rate hikes at the Federal Reserve.

Alongside that announcement, the bank laid out plans to raise more than $2 billion in an effort to shore up its balance sheet.

March 9 – Shares of Silicon Valley Bank fell 60% in response to investor concern about the bank's distressed financial position.

Michael Burry, an investor best known for predicting the subprime mortgage crisis, warned in a now-deleted tweet: "It is possible today we found our Enron."

Depositors in Silicon Valley Bank, a relatively small group made up primarily of venture capital firms and tech startups, began to withdraw their funds from the bank.

Founders Fund, a venture capital fund led by Peter Thiel, withdrew all of its deposits, Bloomberg reported.

March 10 – The rapid withdrawal of funds gained momentum, putting Silicon Valley Bank on the verge of collapse since the bank could not generate enough cash to meet the needs of depositors.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which protects the stability of the financial system, took over Silicon Valley Bank in an effort to protect depositors.

Since the bank is FDIC-insured, depositors are guaranteed protection of up to $250,000 in funds for different types of accounts held.

Many depositors in Silicon Valley Bank held accounts that far exceeded $250,000. In turn, those depositors risked losing a portion of or all of their money that exceeded that threshold.

March 11 – Prominent investors and tech executives criticized a perceived lack of government action to rescue Silicon Valley Bank and its depositors beyond the guarantee of $250,000 for each account held.

Bill Ackman, a billionaire investor, told his 660,000 Twitter followers: "The gov't has about 48 hours to fix a-soon-to-be-irreversible mistake."

Tech entrepreneur Mark Cuban, known to many for his role as a panelist on the show "Shark Tank," derided the $250,000 bank insurance threshold as "too low."

March 12 – Escalating the financial risk, New York-based Signature Bank shuttered at the order of state officials. The bank, which had recently welcomed cryptocurrency deposits, fell prey to fears of a bank run among those who held risky assets.

In response to the outcry and fearing wider spread of the crisis, the FDIC, the Treasury Department and the Fed took a major step, telling depositors in Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank that the FDIC would protect all of their funds, including those that exceed the $250,000 limit.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the banking crisis after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 13, 2023.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the banking crisis after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 13, 2023.
Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

Later in the day, the Fed announced an emergency lending program to cover the deposits at issue and restore wider confidence in the financial system.

Under the program, the Federal Reserve will allow distressed banks to borrow funds on favorable terms directly from the Fed instead of generating cash by selling underwater securities, as Silicon Valley Bank had done. Those funds will equip banks to pay depositors who may want to quickly pull out funds amid the turmoil.

Now, the banks can use distressed securities as collateral to borrow from the emergency lending program as if the securities had retained their full value, allowing the banks to raise cash and ensuring the Fed will take on much of the risk tied to the banks' declining assets.

March 13 – In a morning address from the White House, President Biden sought to tamp down concern about the potential spread of the crisis across the financial system.

"Americans can rest assured that our banking system is safe," Biden said. "Your deposits are safe. Let me also assure you, we will not stop at this. We'll do whatever is needed."

Despite Biden's message, many bank stocks plummeted. First Republic Bank dropped 65% before trading was halted; Charles Schwab, the eighth-largest U.S. bank, dropped 11%.

The Federal Reserve Board, the governing body of the Fed, announced it would launch a review of the "supervision and regulation of Silicon Valley Bank, in light of its failure."

March 14 – Bank stocks bounced back in early trading, erasing much of the losses from a day prior. First Republic Bank climbed nearly 60% while Charles Schwab rose 9%.

The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are probing the fall of Silicon Valley Bank, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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