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Post-Silicon Valley Bank, regulators are still not aggressive enough to prevent bank collapses

Remedies include increased use of discount lending window and more force at the supervisory level Banking regulators could prevent further bank collapses by being more aggressive with tools they already have for both big and small banks, a panel of banking experts said Tuesday.

PNC Financial Services Holdings Inc. PNC, +1.35% Chief Executive William Demchak said the primary lesson of the demise of Silicon Valley Bank that caused it and two other S&P 500 SPX components to collapse last year is that “regulation is uneven” between big and small banks.

The unrealized losses on Silicon Valley Bank’s fixed-rate holdings in its balance sheet and its potential liquidity problems were obvious well before interest rates started to rise, he said.

“Regulators did not do their job,” Demchak said at a Brookings Institution panel titled, “One year later: Lessons learned from the March 2023 bank failures.”

“We purposefully have allowed smaller banks to have lighter-touch regulations,” Demchak said.

That issue of uneven regulation surfaced this year as New York Community Bancorp NYCB, +16.61%, cut its dividend and raised more capital to meet the tougher threshold of a larger bank. The bank’s stock price has fallen sharply on this action, along with other disclosures about stressed loans and lack of internal controls.

Also read: New York Community Bank’s stock slides after leadership changes, ‘material weaknesses’ notice

Also read: New York Community Bancorp’s stock crushed on surprise loss, dividend cut and cost of two loans

New York Community Bancorp faced higher capital requirements after it absorbed assets of Signature Bank, the second lender to fail last year, followed by First Republic Bank.

The bank failures have accelerated a flow of deposits to the largest banks and made bigger institutions more prominent, Demchak said. As the eighth-largest bank in the U.S., “we net-net benefited from this,” he said.