Shares of Credit Suisse (CS) fell this morning–if a 31% drop at the worst moment can be called “falling”–after the bank’s biggest shareholder said it would NOT put more money into the challenged bank. As of noon New York time, shares of Credit Suisse were down 24.1%. The bank’s bonds fell to levels that signal deep financial distress, with securities due in 2026 dropping 17.75 cents to 70 cents on the dollar in New York. That puts their yield at about 20 percentage points above U.S. Treasuries.
The news from Saudi National Bank came a day after Credit Suisse said in its annual report that it found “material weaknesses” relating to the bank’s “failure” to appropriately identify the risk of misstatements in its financial statements. It added it had failed to maintain effective monitoring of the bank’s “internal control objectives” and “risk assessment and monitoring objectives.” These problems “contributed to an additional material weakness, as management did not design and maintain effective controls over the classification and presentation of the consolidated statement of cash flows,” the bank disclosed. The bank said it is working to address the problems, which “could require us to expend significant resources.” It cautioned that the troubles could ultimately impact the bank’s access to capital markets and subject it to “potential regulatory investigations and sanctions.”
It’s not like this comes as a total surprise. In 2022 the bank lost 7.3 billion Swiss francs. Which wiped out all profits from the last decade.
But even if everyone knew that Credit Suisse was a troubled bank, the actual news, coming after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and the shutdown by regulators of Signature Bank, has sent investors running to dump the shares of any bank that MIGHT have a problem. Regional banks in the United States have taken especially big hits today. Shares of First Republic Bank (FRC), for example, were down 20.80% as of noon New York time.
The latest chapter in the banking crisis has led to a flight to safety and a surge in buying of hedges against risk. Gold for April delivery was up 1.43% on the COMEX. The CBOE S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX), which tracks pieces for heading against risk in the S&P 500, was up 20.40% to 28.57. That wipes out–and more–the drop in the “fear index” yesterday.
At noon, the Standard & Poor’s 500 was down 1.33%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 1.59%. The NASDAQ Composite was lower by 1.06% and the NASDAQ 00 had slipped by 0.75%. The small-cap Russell 2000, which has a big exposure to smaller banks, was down 2.26%.
In the latest news–as of 12:20 p.m. in New York, Credit Suisse had asked the Swiss Central Bank for a public statement of support.
Credit Suisse is judged to be a globally systemically important bank of roughly the same importance to the global financial system as Wells Fargo or Morgan Stanley. In the case of Credit Suisse, the bank’s latest GSIB filing reported that the notional amount of over-the-counter derivatives linked to it stood at about 14.5 trillion Swiss Francs ($15.7 trillion) at the end of 2021, while outstanding securities totaled about 223 billion Swiss Francs. Its total payments activity was 31.9 trillion Swiss Francs