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ETFs in Focus on Fears of Another Global Financial Crisis (Revised)

The sudden seizure of the Silicon Valley Bank on Mar 8 made it the biggest banking failure in the United States since the financial collapse of 2008. Silicon Valley Bank, or SVB, had business with nearly half of the venture backed start-ups in the United States, being majorly involved with the country’s venture-backed tech companies.

The problems for the bank started when the Fed started hiking interest rates continuously last year. In 2021, SVB had invested billions of dollars in U.S. government-backed bonds and mortgage-backed securities, which then seemed to favor the bank due to being issued in a low interest rate scenario. However, the value of the low interest rate bonds took a tumble because of the rate hikes.

The customers of SVB also reduced their deposits in the bank after the venture capital funds cut their funding as interest rates rose. This led to the bank selling assets worth $21 billion in the early weeks of March for a loss of $1.8 billion. Much to the surprise of investors, the bank announced last week that it was planning to raise capital amounting to $2.25 billion via share sale.

This sparked panic among its customers. The venture capital firms also advised their clients to pull out their money from the bank, which ultimately led to the authorities closing the doors on SVB.

The Aftermath

The sudden collapse of the bank saw $100 billion being wiped out from the market value of U.S. bank stocks just within two days of the event. The seizure of SVB caused a ripple effect on the digital asset industry, with the crypto market witnessing increased volatility. The collapse caused volatility in the global markets as investors feared another global crisis. The Volatility Index neared its six-month high, with rating agencies like Moody’s cutting its outlook on the banking sector to negative from stable.

However, the Fed was fast to intervene and announced that customers of the fallen bank would have access to their funds. The announcement was an attempt to shore up the confidence in the banking sector of the country. Shareholders and unsecured debtors would be covered under the announcement of the Fed.

The collapse of SVB saw the greenback weaken which caused many economists and analysts to believe that the Fed may not increase the interest rates with such aggression. Currencies such as the Japanese yen and Swiss franc benefited from the fall of the bank. The Silicon Valley Bank UK was bought by HSBC for 1 pound.

What Does it Mean for Rate Hikes?

The percentage of economists who believe that the Fed will hike interest rates aggressively has gone down significantly. Due to the global ramifications of the collapse, many economists forecast that Australia’s central bank will pause rate hike, while the Bank of England will most likely increase the interest rates less aggressively. The SVB collapse was followed by the collapse of Signature Bank, in what was the third largest financial failure in the history of the U.S. banking system.

Companies like Roblox (RBLX) and Payoneer Global (PAYO) stated that they had around $150 million and less than $20 million in cash and security balances, respectively, in SVB. With the customers already skeptical and regulators on their toes, Swiss authorities wasted no time infacilitating UBS’ takeover of Credit Suisse in an attempt to avoid further panic.

The collapse of the regional banks also saw large U.S. banks depositing around $30 billion in First Republic Bank (FRC) last week in a bid to rescue the latter from a widening credit crisis. However, the liquidity injection failed to shore up investors’ confidence in First Republic Bank.

ETFs in Focus

With the collapse having global ramifications, let’s take a look into some ETFs that were affected by the sudden seizure of U.S. regional banks at the peak of the crisis. The fall in the returns of the following funds was significant due to their exposure to the banking sector.

Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF)

The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF seeks to provide investment results that, before expenses, generally correspond to the price and yield performance of the Financial Select Sector Index. After the collapse, the fund fell around 12.35% in one week. The fund has declined 13.93% in the past month.With 67 securities in its asset basket, the fund invests mostly in banks and capital markets with 31.2% and 27.46%, respectively.

The fund has gathered $28.8 billion in its asset base and has a dividend yield of 2.25%. Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF charges 10 bps as annual fees and has a daily average traded volume of around 49 million shares.

Vanguard Financials ETF (VFH)

The Vanguard Financials ETF seeks to track the performance of the MSCI US Investable Market Index (IMI)/Financials 25/50. It is a passively managed fund and has 376 securities in its asset basket. With 13.9% of the assets invested in regional banks, the financial crisis saw the fund fall around 12% within a week. The fund has given negative returns of 14.78% in the past month.

The fund has amassed $ 7.6 billion in its asset base and charges an annual fee of 10 bps. It has a daily average traded volume of about 483,000 shares.

BlackRock Future Financial And Technology ETF (BPAY)

The BlackRock Future Financial and Technology ETF seeks to maximize total return by investing in companies delivering innovative and emerging technologies used in the financial services industry. It is an actively managed fund and has 37 securities in its asset basket. Information Technology and Financials, with 59.6% and 38.4%, respectively, are the top two holdings of the fund.

The fund reported that its total exposure in SVB and Signature banks as a percentage of its asset base was 5.02%. The collapse of the bank saw the fund fall around 16.6% in a week.  BlackRock Future Financial And Technology ETF has gathered $3.63 million in its asset base.

 IShares U.S. Regional Banks ETF (IAT)

The iShares U.S. Regional Banks ETF seeks investment results that generally correspond to the price and yield performance of Dow Jones U.S. Select Regional Banks Index. The fund has 37 securities in its asset basket, with 85.1% invested in regional banks in the United States. With 2.63% of its asset base exposed to SVB and Signature Bank, the fund is down around 29% since the collapse. The fund has lost 35.24% in the past month.

The fund has amassed $639 million in its asset base and charges an annual fee of 39 bps. IAT has a dividend yield of 4.41%.

Bottom Line

The failure of the Silicon Valley Bank and other regional banks has made public more skeptical about the banking sector and the prevalent rules and regulations, with many questioning why the regulators missed the red flags. Many economists believe that this might be a one-off affair. However, the effects of the collapse on the policies and estimates may be drastic.

(We are reissuing this article to correct a mistake. The original version, published on Mar 21, 2023, should no longer be relied upon.)

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First Republic Bank (FRC) : Free Stock Analysis Report

Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF): ETF Research Reports

Vanguard Financials ETF (VFH): ETF Research Reports

iShares U.S. Regional Banks ETF (IAT): ETF Research Reports

Roblox Corporation (RBLX) : Free Stock Analysis Report

Payoneer Global Inc. (PAYO) : Free Stock Analysis Report

BlackRock Future Financial and Technology ETF (BPAY): ETF Research Reports

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