Silicon Valley Bank headquarters in Santa Clara, California on March 10, 2023, when federal regulators shut it down and seized its assets. (Photo by NOAH BERGER/AFP via Getty Images)
(CNSNews.com) – “Our values guide everything we do,” says Silicon Valley Bank’s “Environmental, Social and Governance Report” for 2022.
“We start with empathy, take responsibility, speak and act with integrity, embrace diverse perspectives, and keep learning and improving,” says the introduction written by (former) SVB President and CEO Greg Becker.
Federal regulators took over the failed bank on Friday, following a run by depositors. The Biden administration says all of SVB’s depositors will get their money back, even those who exceed the $250,000 limit for federally insured deposits.
SVB’s 66-page ESG report lays out the following social justice initiatives that were important to the bank, which mainly served technology startups:
— Engaging and Empowering Employees: Our people are key to our success, and we invest to support their growth and well-being.
— Building a Culture of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at SVB: We embrace diverse perspectives and foster a culture of belonging.
— Championing Inclusion in the Innovation Economy: We are committed to advancing inclusion and opportunity in the innovation economy.
— Supporting Communities Where We Live and Work: We invest in and give back to the community to help those in need.
— Advancing the Transition to a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World: We support companies driving positive environmental change while reducing our own carbon footprint.
— Practicing Responsible Corporate Governance: We uphold ethical standards and act with transparency and accountability.
What about a ‘sustainable’ balance sheet?
Vivek Ramaswamy, a 2024 presidential Republican candidate, says he would not bail out Silicon Valley Bank, if it were up to him.
The entrepreneur and author of “Woke, Inc.” (a book about leftist corporate virtue-signalling) told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that SVB “made some uniquely bad management decisions.”
“I think this is an issue with respect to the securities they held, the concentration risk of their customer base, and their failure to hedge those risks,” Ramaswamy said:
“However, here’s a couple observations I will make. Silicon Valley Bank just last year made a $5 billion commitment to sustainable finance to ensure a better and more sustainable planet. If they had actually sought for a more sustainable balance sheet, they would have better done their job.
“But it’s even deeper than that. I think that, if they do get bailed out, part of their bet is that they wanted to signal that they’re one of the good guys by influence amongst influential people in Silicon Valley, even in Washington, D.C., by gesturing towards even committing $5 billion, which I don’t think is responsible, towards something outside of what their core mission should have been focused on.
“And you know what? The sad part of the story is, if they do get bailed out, it will be because they bought that kind of social insurance. And I have written about this in ‘Woke, Inc.’
“It’s not that different than what companies like Goldman Sachs did back in the 2008 financial crisis. You play the right games, you influence the right people, you send the right virtue signals, you’re the one that gets bailed out, if you’re Goldman, instead of Lehman Brothers, who didn’t do those things.
“This is crony capitalism. We saw the movie in 2008. I had a front-row seat to it. I was working in finance in New York City back then. It was my first job out of college. It would be a sad thing to see that story repeat itself. And this isn’t a left-wing or a right-wing issue. It’s an issue about the integrity of capitalism itself.”
Ramaswamy said federal regulators should “let the market work,” even if that means SVB’s collapse:
“There’s a lot of credible rumors this weekend that, actually, the FDIC or other parts of the government are going to obstruct an acquisition because they don’t want more concentration risks in other banks.
“No, I think the government needs to get out of the way. And if another bank actually wants to buy and save Silicon Valley Bank through the private sector itself, they should be permitted to do that.”