The next dominoes to fall?
The S&P 500 has rebounded by 6.5 percent since the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank last month, and there are encouraging signs that deposit outflows are slowing at regional lenders.
But Wall Street does not think the banking crisis is anywhere close to being over. “Even when it is behind us,” Jamie Dimon, the C.E.O. of JPMorgan Chase, warned last week, “there will be repercussions from it for years to come.” And quarterly reports released this week by some of the country’s biggest lenders, including Citigroup, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo, will be examined closely to determine the effect of the turmoil.
Market watchers see potential trouble in these three areas:
Economic growth. Lenders with less than $250 billion in assets (think SVB) play an outsize role in the economy, accounting for 80 percent of commercial real estate lending and 45 percent of consumer lending, according to Goldman Sachs. Small and midsize banks are expected to slow lending drastically in an effort to strengthen their balance sheets after the crisis. The pullback is likely to result in a quarter- to a half-percentage-point drag on G.D.P., the Goldman Sachs economists David Mericle and Manuel Abecasis report.
Venture capital firms and start-ups. The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, the go-to bank for tech start-ups, has heightened focus on the health of new companies. Even before the bank’s demise, they were facing liquidity issues. According to Andrew Sheets, a strategist at Morgan Stanley, roughly half of venture capital-backed companies are on pace to run out of cash in the second half of 2023. If lending dries up, that could mean more bad news for struggling start-ups as well as for V.C. funds and their limited partners.
The stock market. Left out of March’s market rally were bank stocks. The KBW bank index, which tracks the performance of 24 major U.S. banks, is trading near a 30-month low after the collapse of SVB. Now, a feared pullback in lending is expected to hit banks’ profits. “Given concerns about bank liquidity, one might expect to see more companies in the financial sector issuing E.P.S. guidance” in the coming quarter, John Butters, an analyst at FactSet, wrote in a research note, referring to earnings per share.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
The Justice Department opens an investigation into leaked Pentagon documents about the war in Ukraine. The freshness of the information contained in the trove of secret files exposed online are especially damaging, according to Biden administration officials.
A U.S. Navy ship sails through waters claimed by China in the South China Sea. The show of force came amid days of exercises by the Chinese military to practice “encircling” the island after President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan met Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California last week.
Tesla will build a battery factory in Shanghai. The facility will aim to assemble 10,000 Megapacks, batteries used to help store energy for electricity grids. The move comes despite rising pressure from Washington on U.S. technology companies to curb investments in China.
Fox News and Lou Dobbs settle a defamation suit. The network and one of its former hosts agreed to a confidential deal with a Venezuelan businessman whom the network linked to voting fraud accusations in the 2020 U.S. election.
Gloomy global growth
Policymakers are gathering for the spring meetings of the World Bank and the I.M.F. in Washington this week against a backdrop of dire economic forecasts amid growing fragmentation and rising geopolitical tensions. Kristalina Georgieva, the fund’s managing director, warned last week that the global economy would expand at an average annual rate of about 3 percent over the next five years, the lowest medium-term prospects since 1990.
Here are four big topics to watch at the meetings:
Inflation. The recent banking turmoil revealed the potential dangers of using rapidly rising interest rates to tame inflation, Ms. Georgieva noted. But she advised central banks to stay the course to revive, saying curbing inflation was crucial to rejuvenating growth.
Trade fragmentation. Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and growing U.S.-China tensions have already reverberated across the global economy. Ms. Georgieva warned that rising trade protectionism could add to those challenges.
Douglas Rediker, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, told DealBook that decoupling technologically from China could fundamentally alter basic assumptions about how to drive economic growth, but that he worries that an obsession with decoupling could be counterproductive for the United States and its allies.
Emerging market debt: About 15 percent of low-income countries are already in debt distress and another 45 percent are potentially vulnerable. David Malpass, the departing president of the World Bank, has called for structural changes to speed up debt restructuring. Measures could include debt standstills and sharing World Bank-I.M.F. debt sustainability analysis with all creditor nations simultaneously.
But some fear that Beijing, a big lender to developing countries, could exploit their woes to widen its influence — behavior that Washington views as predatory.
Climate change. Policymakers, academics and development experts want the World Bank to do more to help poorer countries cope with global warming. The man expected to succeed Mr. Malpass this summer, Ajay Banga, the former Mastercard C.E.O., will be under pressure to make the institution more responsive, write The Times’s David Gelles and Alan Rappeport.
“Is the Twitter label accurate?”
— Elon Musk in an email to the BBC, after Twitter labeled one of the organization’s accounts “government funded media.” The designation was given days after Twitter faced a backlash for describing NPR as “state-affiliated media” — the same label the company gives to outlets like Russia’s RT and China’s Xinhua News — before changing it to government-funded media.
Macron’s multipolar message to Washington
President Emmanuel Macron of France visited China last week in a push to establish some clear water between the European and the American approaches to Beijing. Instead of seeking to isolate China, Mr. Macron said that Europe needs to maintain strong commercial ties (executives from some of France’s biggest companies on his trip) and assert its own priorities — what he calls “strategic autonomy” — rather than cleave too closely to Washington’s. Europe should become a “third superpower” in a multipolar world, he said.
In an interview with Politico as he departed, Mr. Macron called for Europe to avoid getting entangled in a conflict over Taiwan and to decrease its reliance on Washington.
Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party have enthusiastically endorsed Macron’s concept of strategic autonomy and Chinese officials constantly refer to it in their dealings with European countries. Party leaders and theorists in Beijing are convinced the West is in decline and China is on the ascendant and that weakening the trans-Atlantic relationship will help accelerate this trend.
“The paradox would be that, overcome with panic, we believe we are just America’s followers,” Macron said in the interview. “The question Europeans need to answer … is it in our interest to accelerate [a crisis] on Taiwan? No. The worse thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and take our cue from the U.S. agenda and a Chinese overreaction,” he said.
The comments earned a sharp rebuke from Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida and a China hawk: “Maybe we should basically say we’re going to focus on Taiwan and the threats that China poses, and you guys handle Ukraine and Europe.”
The week ahead
Inflation, Fed minutes, the global economy and bank earnings: Here’s what to watch this week:
Today: Most big European bourses are closed for the Easter Monday holiday. The annual spring meetings of the World Bank and the I.M.F. begin.
Tomorrow: China reports Consumer Price Index data for March. Albertsons is set to deliver full-year results, but it will not host an analyst call as it continues to work through its megamerger with Kroger.
Wednesday: Investors will be glued to their screens for the latest C.P.I. data, due out before the opening bell. Economists polled by Reuters forecast that March consumer prices rose by 5.2 percent on a year-on-year basis, down from 6 percent the previous month; core inflation, though, is believed to have ticked higher. The Fed also releases the minutes for its previous rate-setting meeting.
Thursday: March Producer Price Index data is due. On the earnings front, Delta Air Lines reports.
Friday: The first batch of bank earnings come out, with Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo all reporting. BlackRock is also reporting.
THE SPEED READ
An Abu Dhabi-based telecommunications company will pay $400 million for a majority stake in the super app of Careem, the Dubai-based Uber-owned ride-hailing service. (Reuters)
Whole Foods Market is weighing building off-site, commercial kitchens to supply the grocer’s food bars and refrigerated cases. (WSJ)
A Texas judge’s ruling to revoke the F.D.A.’s approval of the abortion pill mifepristone poses wider threats to the U.S. government’s regulatory authority. (NYT)
China treads carefully as it hits back against the U.S. in chip wars. (FT)
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is pushing the toughest immigration crackdown in America. (NYT)
Best of the rest
“Paul Singer, the Man Who Saw the Economic Crises Coming.” (WSJ)
“Saudi Arabia Shelling Out on Sports, Athletes Amid Accusation of Sportswashing.” (CBS)
“The Real-World Costs of the Digital Race for Bitcoin.” (NYT)
“Burglars Reportedly Tunnel Into Apple Store, Steal Over 400 iPhones.” (SF Gate)
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