On Saturday, Bloomberg reported that Warren Buffet, the billionaire head of Berkshire Hathaway, has hammered the officials in charge of failed US lenders, demanding they be held accountable for the mismanagement which resulted in the collapse of the financial institutions they led.
At an annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders in Omaha, Nebraska, Buffet noted that First Republic had offered “crazy” fixed rate, nongovernment backed mortgages, which in some cases were for up to ten years.
Meanwhile Charlie Munger, the longtime buffet partner, warned that US banks are holding a plethora of bad commercial property loans, and that America’s real estate market has a real storm brewing in it.
At the beginning of last week, US financial regulators swooped in and seized First Republic, before it was sold to JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank. Ranked 14th in size among US commercial banks, First Republic had been struggling earlier in the year, before a group of the largest banks on Wall Street had delivered a $30 billion rescue package in the form of uninsured deposits, with hopes of averting a collapse of the bank, and a possible further erosion of confidence in the US financial sector.
When it was sold, First Republic was holding roughly $229 billion in total assets, and $104 billion in total deposits. As with the previous failures of lending institutions, such as Silicon Valley Bank, and Signature Bank, First Republic was a victim of waves of deposit runs, which forced it to liquidate assets at a loss.
On the equity side of the issue, Los Angeles-based PacWest, and Arizona’s Western Alliance saw trading in their shares suspended after the stock prices fell precipitously. As concerns are grew about the positions of mid-sized lenders, several regional banks saw their share prices fall by at least 15% earlier in the week.
Buffet has been rumored to be heavily involved in responding to the banking crisis, with reports in March revealing he had been contacted by individuals in the Biden administration, who were looking for ways to resolve the unfolding banking crisis.