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Investment Outlook

Update: Silicon Valley Bank

Stone steps and columns

Nuveen has very modest holdings of Silicon Valley Bank, which collapsed Friday after its parent spooked customers with news that it had sold bonds at a substantial loss and was seeking additional capital. Total, direct holdings across all of Nuveen’s fixed income and equity accounts was approximately $112.8 million, or less than 0.01% of total AUM. Nuveen Real Estate also has a $50 million credit line from the bank that is 36% drawn and set to expire in May. 

Here is additional context about the bank failure, our exposure and our outlook on the broader banking sector.

 

What happened?

Silicon Valley Bank was not performing well because of its heavy concentration of venture capital firms and early-stage tech customers that had been withdrawing funds at a higher-than-expected rate for several quarters to finance their businesses. In response to these depositor outflows, the bank liquidated some holdings to reinvest in securities with potentially higher returns. 

Silicon Valley Bank-parent SVB Financial last Wednesday evening said that it had sold securities from its portfolio for a $1.8 billion loss and was seeking to raise $1.25B in capital via an offering of common and preferred stock. Moody’s downgraded the bank and assigned it a negative outlook, and S&P followed suit. Spreads on SVB bonds widened substantially, and the bank’s stock plunged. 

SVB’s actions and the negative outlook from the ratings agencies sparked a run on the bank. As depositors rushed to withdraw their funds, the FDIC moved to take over the bank and halted withdrawals.

 

What is our outlook for banks?

On March 12th, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen instructed the FDIC to guarantee SVB customers will have access to all of their money starting Monday. Yellen commented, “By guaranteeing all deposits – even the uninsured money customers kept with the failed SVB bank – the government can ensure public confidence in America’s banking system.” We expect this action to curtail the risk of contagion in terms of additional runs on banks.

However, we expect a much tougher landscape for U.S. banks with more competition for deposits and tighter regulations around capital/liquidity requirements. While rising interest rates have indeed negatively impacted fixed income investments on bank balance sheets, those same banks have also benefitted from a rise in net interest income since the Fed’s tightening program began. Recently, there has been increasing pressure to raise deposit rates, which makes the incremental profitability of future higher rates less accretive to the bottom line. But in general, bank balance sheets remain incredibly well-capitalized, and banks continue to perform well year-after-year on the Fed’s annual stress tests. So, while we remain constructive on banks from a credit perspective, our outlook for bank equity is not as compelling.

What is Nuveen’s exposure to SVB?

The FDIC has made it clear that depositors will have preference on the assets of the operating company, leaving uncertainty about recovery values for debt issued by the holding company. Furthermore, any remaining capital at the holding company level will be applied to senior debt first and then to preferred securities. Nuveen maintains a modest direct exposure to SVB debt and equity across its $1.1 trillion investment platform and generally had underweight positions relative to the benchmark in its dedicated preferred security strategies. 

As of the evening of March 12th, the situation remains quite fluid. We will provide updates to our clients as material developments unfold.   

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The views and opinions expressed are for informational and educational purposes only as of the date of production/writing and may change without notice at any time based on numerous factors, such as market or other conditions, legal and regulatory developments, additional risks and uncertainties and may not come to pass. This material may contain “forward-looking” information that is not purely historical in nature. Such information may include, among other things, projections, forecasts, estimates of market returns, and proposed or expected portfolio composition. Any changes to assumptions that may have been made in preparing this material could have a material impact on the information presented herein by way of example. Performance data shown represents past performance and does not predict or guarantee future results. Investing involves risk; principal loss is possible.

All information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy is not guaranteed. There is no representation or warranty as to the current accuracy, reliability or completeness of, nor liability for, decisions based on such information and it should not be relied on as such. For term definitions and index descriptions, please access the glossary on nuveen.com. Please note, it is not possible to invest directly in an index.

Important information on risk

All investments carry a certain degree of risk, including possible loss of principal, and there is no assurance that an investment will provide positive performance over any period of time. Equity investments are subject to market risk or the risk that stocks will decline in response to such factors as adverse company news or industry developments or a general economic decline. Debt or fixed income securities are subject to market risk, credit risk, interest rate risk, call risk, tax risk, political and economic risk, and income risk. As interest rates rise, bond prices fall. Non-U.S. investments involve risks such as currency fluctuation, political and economic instability, lack of liquidity and differing legal and accounting standards. These risks are magnified in emerging markets. This report should not be regarded by the recipients as a substitute for the exercise of their own judgment. It is important to review your investment objectives, risk tolerance and liquidity needs before choosing an investment style or manager.

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