Citizens of Switzerland backed the losses incurred by the merger of the nation’s two largest investment banks, effectively costing each citizen roughly $13,500 in tax liabilities.
Swiss investment bank UBS agreed over the weekend to purchase rival financial institution Credit Suisse in a $3 billion deal. The Swiss National Bank offered the two firms a “public liquidity backstop” worth $108 billion as well as nearly $10 billion in government guarantees of potential excess losses.
The deal will create tax liabilities of $13,500 for each of the 8.7 million men, women, and children in the small central European nation. The liability is equivalent to $29,700 per household and constitutes 20% of a typical Swiss citizen’s annual income.
“We are fed up with the idea that if you are big enough, you get everything,” Christoph Rechsteiner, a partner at Swiss tax consultancy MME, said in an interview with Bloomberg, which added that 200 people assembled on Monday outside of the Credit Suisse headquarters in Zurich and threw eggs at the building. “The law is changed for you over a weekend.”
Credit Suisse, formerly the eighth largest investment bank in the world, had identified several “material weaknesses” with respect to risk assessment strategy in a recent annual report. The document said that performance last year was “significantly affected by the challenging macro and geopolitical environment with market uncertainty and client risk aversion,” prompting an “adverse impact on client activity across all our divisions.” Customers of Credit Suisse withdrew $119 billion in the fourth quarter of last year amid risk and compliance failures.
Credit Suisse is one of 30 worldwide banks considered by the Financial Stability Board as “systemically important,” meaning that the failure of Credit Suisse could have induced an international financial crisis. The companies listed as systemically important are colloquially called “too big to fail.” The Swiss National Bank had additionally designated UBS and three other financial institutions as systemically important banks.
“The solution that has been drafted now is that if all comes good, UBS makes a huge profit,” Rechsteiner added in the Bloomberg interview. “They got Credit Suisse for nothing at all and the government is backing the losses.”
The implosion of Credit Suisse, which had been struggling for several years, occurred after Silicon Valley Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in the United States, collapsed as depositors rushed to withdraw their funds and the company suffered heavy losses from the sale of a long-term bond portfolio. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation now directs holdings maintained by Silicon Valley Bank, which California state regulators closed on March 10, as well as Signature Bank in New York, which was closed on March 12.
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Financial authorities revealed that “there has been substantial interest from multiple parties” from banks seeking to acquire all or part of Silicon Valley Bridge Bank, the entity established by officials to manage the company’s remaining operations.
The vast majority of deposits at Silicon Valley Bank, which offered services to nearly half of the venture-backed technology and healthcare firms in the United States, exceeded the $250,000 threshold insured by the FDIC. Authorities rushed to guarantee all deposits at Silicon Valley Bank such that the rest of the financial system, in which roughly half of deposits surpass $250,000, would remain protected from bank runs.