Breaking the Bank

The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank—and the government’s response—trigger populist sentiments across the political spectrum, according to our Research and Insight team’s findings. 

Here’s what they discovered in canvassing their insight community of 300 news-attentive Americans about the events:

  • Participants place responsibility for the collapse firmly at the feet of SVB’s leadership. But it triggers mistrust toward banks, tech companies and large companies more broadly. Participants are frustrated banks seem to have failed to learn from the mistakes of 2008, with Democrats believing banks have “gamed the system.” Republicans and Democrats alike feel startups were taking too many risks.
  • Participants across the political spectrum bemoan what they see as one set of rules for the wealthy and powerful, with another for “the common man.” Participants express anger that SVB executives may have “cashed out” ahead of the collapse, with Americans having to deal with the fallout.
  • Republicans are especially incensed at the decision to extend the FDIC’s guarantee to bank customers and clients with over $250,000 in deposits – with this decision in their minds undermining responsibility. Though Democrats are more supportive of the extension, some express anger that this means bailing out “venture capitalists” and big businesses.
  • Underpinning these views is a conviction that regulation has failed – most strongly expressed by Democrats, but also at times by Republicans. Participants on both sides talk about the rules and requirements for regional or small banks having been relaxed too much – with Democrats blaming the Trump Administration.
  • Some Republicans echo the narrative that SVB’s collapse was caused by “wokeness”– with some feeling SVB was “distracted” by green investing or was focused on liberal causes.
  • While many don’t believe they will be directly impacted by the collapse, participants across the spectrum are concerned about the ripple effect of SVB’s collapse – whether the potential for more banks to run into difficulties, or an already fragile economy to fall into a deep recession.
  • Most participants express continued confidence in the banking system – but they worry about other people panicking and putting “their money under their mattress.” However, others do see SVB as relatively isolated – in part as the bank is seen as different from most retail banks, given its focus on tech and start- ups.

For more information, please reach out to—and find the full report here.