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Elizabeth Warren criticizes Fed Chair Powell

US Senator Elizabeth Warren addresses the public during a rally to protest the US Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe Vs. Wade at the Massachusetts State House in Boston, Massachusetts on June 24, 2022.

Joseph Prezioso | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday pushed Fed Chair Jerome Powell to remove himself from the central bank’s review of the Silicon Valley Bank collapse, accusing him of allowing dangerous practices that helped to cause its failure.

The Massachusetts Democrat contended Powell’s “actions to allow big banks like Silicon Valley Bank to boost their profits by loading up on risk directly contributed to these bank failures.”

“For the Fed’s inquiry to have credibility, Powell must publicly and immediately recuse himself from this internal review,” Warren said in a statement. “It’s appropriate for Vice Chair for Supervision Barr to have the independence necessary to do his job.”

The Fed declined to comment to CNBC.

The Fed on Monday announced a review of the supervision and regulation of SVB after its takeover by financial regulators prompted the largest bank failure since the 2008 financial crisis.

“The events surrounding Silicon Valley Bank demand a thorough, transparent, and swift review by the Federal Reserve,” Powell said in a statement Monday.

SVB, a 40-year-old institution that catered to tech startups and venture capitalists, shuttered on Friday after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation took control of its deposits.

On Wednesday, the bank announced it had sold $21 billion worth of its securities at a nearly $2 billion loss and said it needed to raise $2.25 billion to continue operating. The bank’s stock price plummeted more than 60% after the announcement, as customers began withdrawing their money.

Federal regulators, including the Treasury Department, announced Sunday that they would backstop bank depositors through FDIC insurance. The agency created the Deposit Insurance National Bank of Santa Clara to hold the insured deposits from SVB.

Market analysts have said that regulators failed to acknowledge SVB’s risky business practices, which relied heavily on corporate deposits over retail. It also holds a large share of asset loans and securities.

SVB’s collapse has fueled fears of similar issues at other banks.

On Sunday, New York State regulators shut down Signature Bank, a major lender in the cryptocurrency industry, to help stave off a bigger financial crisis. As with SVB, all deposits are protected by the Fed’s emergency lending authority.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Friday she was “monitoring very carefully” developments at a few banks. Her testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee came before the FDIC announcement.

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