Long before its epic collapse, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) was a darling of the left. It allied in cash and manpower with a liberal nonprofit run by California Gov. Gavin Newsom's wife and fully embraced the environmental, social and governance (ESG) platform now being banned in some red states, while celebrating its executives' involvement in the LGBTQ+ movement.
As SVB's investment failures mounted, the bank doubled down on its ideological commitments by pledging $5 billion in new green tech outlays, despite signs of rising interest rates negatively impacting that sector. Some institutional investors also began to raise concerns about the overall balance sheet.
The stark contrast between the liberal investment icon and what was in reality an underperforming bank, was on full display last July. SVB was boasting about its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) progress and a Pride Month forum, as J.P. Morgan official Steve Alexopoulos pressed for answers on an investor call about why its investments had lost 8% of value in a single quarter, according to the transcript of the meeting.
"So if we look at the $137 million of investment losses, which are detailed on Page 7, that declines a bit more than we've seen in other periods, right, is over 8%, typically you're like 2% to 3%," Alexopolous said. "Can you walk us through the three buckets, so we can understand that a bit better."