Friday, 22 Sep 2023

US banking crisis: Warren Buffett says bosses should face punishment

US banking crisis: Warren Buffett says bosses should face punishment


US banking crisis: Warren Buffett says bosses should face punishment

The billionaire investor Warren Buffett has said executives who led the US banking system into crisis should face "punishment", as the American economy grapples with the worst series of bank failures since the 2008 financial crash.

The owner of the investment firm Berkshire Hathaway said US bank directors "should suffer" when they run into trouble, adding that he was wary of most banking stocks because of "the messed-up incentives".

The comments made by Buffett, 92, who is known to investors as the "Oracle of Omaha", come a week after the collapse of First Republic Bank, the biggest US bank to fail since the 2008 financial crisis.

Speaking at Berkshire's annual shareholder meeting, Buffett criticised how politicians, regulators and the press had handled the recent failures of Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank and First Republic Bank, saying their "very poor" messaging has unnecessarily frightened depositors.

Buffett said he was still cautious about holding bank stocks and had recently reduced his exposure to the sector - with the exception of Bank of America, which he liked.

"If you look at First Republic, you can see that they were offering non-government guaranteed mortgages at fixed rates for jumbo amounts - that's a crazy proposition to the advantage of the bank. It was in plain sight and we all ignored it until it blew up."

A recent review by the US Federal Reserve of SVB's failure blamed deregulatory changes made during Donald Trump's presidency for contributing to the collapse of the technology-focused lender. Legislation in 2018 reduced many of the checks and controls on lending by smaller banks.

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