Written by Millan Chauhan.

Last week, we saw the third US bank seized by regulators since March with First Republic Bank being the latest casualty of higher interest rates and tighter monetary conditions. This marks the largest US banking casualty since 2008 and was driven by losses in their loan book combined with a run on their deposits. US interest rates currently sit between a target range of 4.75% and 5% and banks that have not been offering competitive enough deposit rates, in order to facilitate cheap loans, have been suffering outflows as savers transfer to money market funds paying higher rates. JP Morgan have since acquired First Republic’s deposits and a large proportion of its assets in a deal which was coordinated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan CEO announced that they will not retain the First Republic brand but instead a large majority of the deposit base will move directly into their retail banking arm called Chase.

The fate of First Republic was outlined last week as they announced that $100 billion of deposits had been withdrawn in the first quarter of 2023, despite their deposit demographic being somewhat more diversified than the likes of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank where deposits were largely derived from a more technology-focused client base. Under normal circumstances, JP Morgan wouldn’t be able to acquire a bank the size of First Republic for competition reasons, however these limits were waived in a bid to reduce further market stress and minimise losses. Some policymakers have criticised this acquisition made by JP Morgan since it has made the largest US bank even bigger and reduced competition further.

Elsewhere, companies continue to report their first quarter earnings and we saw the big US technology companies report last week whereby Artificial Intelligence (AI) was the big topic of conversation. Most of the technology names have implemented cost-cutting policies with thousands of layoffs being made, however they are investing billions as they aim to become market leaders in AI which they believe to enhance their long-term profitability. Meta, Amazon, Google and Microsoft stated the word “AI” a combined 168 times on their earnings call last week.

UK Government borrowing figures in the 2022-23 financial year, published on Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics, came in at £13.2bn less than forecast by the Office of Budget Responsibility, although, overall public borrowing rose compared to 2021-2022.  This was mainly due to lower-than-expected public spending, despite the cost-of-living subsidies that have been provided over the year by the government.  The lower-than-expected borrowing has given the Chancellor some breathing room and could give way to tax cuts later in the year in his Autumn Statement.

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