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How will SVB collapse affect Korea?

Financial minister and central bank deputy governor believe the US lender bankruptcy will not be a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis

By Park Han-na

Published : March 13, 2023 - 17:11

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SVB logo is seen through broken glass in this illustration taken Friday. (Reuters) SVB logo is seen through broken glass in this illustration taken Friday. (Reuters)

President Yoon Suk Yeol said Monday that uncertainty in the financial market is growing due to the bankruptcy of Silicon Valley Bank, one of the largest banks in the United States.

“The cause of the SVB collapse, the progress of the situation, the US authorities’ response, as well as their impact on the domestic financial market and the real economy should be closely examined by the deputy prime minister of economy and others,” he said at a meeting with senior secretaries.

On Friday, SVB, the 16th-largest lender in the US, went bankrupt with about $209 billion (276.5 trillion won) in assets. The startup-focused bank became the second-largest bank that has collapsed in US history.

SVB recently announced a capital increase plan in response to deteriorating liquidity and profitability, but withdrawal requests amounting to $42 billion – or a quarter of its total deposits -- resulted in cancellation of the plan.

With its export slump dragging down its economic performance this year, the country’s financial policy makers were cautiously monitoring whether the US bank failure could be another factor that weighs down its economy.

"Following reports over the shutdown of Silicon Valley Bank in the U.S. over the weekend, volatilities and uncertainties in the financial market at home and abroad have been escalating," Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho said ahead of a closed-door meeting on export issues.

It is believed that the bankruptcy is likely to have limited impacts on the global economy, with U.S. financial authorities also making prompt efforts to protect depositors, Choo added.

While concerns mounted that the SVB incident could become a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis, Bank of Korea Deputy Gov. Lee Seung-heon said it is unlikely the case.

"At this time, the likelihood of the SVB and Signature Bank closures spilling over into systemic risk across banks and other financial institutions is not determined to be significant." Lee said after a market review meeting at the central bank.

The US lender failure, however, will have a direct impact on the state-run National Pension Service, as it owned more than 100,000 shares of SVB Financial Group, which belongs to SVB.

As of the end of last year, the value of the stake was $23,196,961, some 30 billion won. However, as of the Thursday, the stock price of SVB Financial Group was $106.04, which is half compared to the end of last year. Since then, trading has been suspended due to the aftermath of bankruptcy.

The SVB bankruptcy may act as a short-term volatility factor for the local stock market in terms of strengthening investors' risk aversion, said Na Jung-hwan, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities.

The benchmark Kospi recovered in the afternoon from its morning loss. The Kospi gained 13.12 points, or 0.55 percent as of 2:58 p.m.