ICYMI: Silvergate was, for many of its existence, a conventional Southern California regional financial institution. However by 2018, it had pivoted to crypto, recognizing that younger digital asset corporations had been struggling to ascertain relationships with bigger mainstream banks. Silvergate positioned itself as a conduit for these new corporations that different establishments seen with a mixture of skepticism and disdain. It was a reasonably shrewd enterprise transfer on the time. However Silvergate went all in on crypto, and left itself overexposed within the crash that started final yr.

“After hitching its wagon so firmly to the brand new world of crypto, the financial institution had uncovered itself to an old-world banking danger: When the business’s prospects soured, Silvergate had little different enterprise to lean on.”

The financial institution’s shares have cratered 98% from their November 2021 excessive. In the identical interval, the worldwide crypto business has misplaced two-thirds of its worth, falling from a $3 trillion market cap to $1 trillion.


In the event you’re within the crypto biz at this second, you are working underneath an extended, darkish shadow forged by Sam Bankman-Fried, the entrepreneur who turned a pariah when his crypto empire collapsed final yr. That occasion sparked a rash of bankruptcies and put the complete business on watch.

If conventional finance of us and regulators noticed crypto as one thing of a nuisance earlier than, FTX’s collapse and the prison indictments that adopted turned the market radioactive. The nearer you had been to FTX, the extra bother you can be in.

“There’s an outdated saying — ‘if you happen to lie down with canines, you get up with fleas’ — and that is what occurred with Silvergate,” John Reed Stark, an outspoken crypto critic and former head of the SEC’s Workplace of Web Enforcement, advised the Wall Avenue Journal. He described Silvergate’s collapse as a “cataclysmic occasion for the crypto business.”

To make sure, Silvergate hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing over its ties to FTX, however the financial institution acknowledged it had been investigated by regulators and the Justice Division.


Playing cards on the desk: I’m neither pro- nor anti-crypto. I’m skeptical of it the identical manner I’m deeply skeptical of (and fascinated by) just about something involving giant sums of cash and zealotry.

Within the fallout of Silvergate, bullish analysts are, predictably, pointing to how overexposed the financial institution was to a single business, the way it had awful danger administration, and many others. — something to keep away from placing the blame on crypto.

“Silvergate’s demise was not a crypto downside,” stated Marcus Sotiriou, an analyst at digital asset dealer GlobalBlock. “Silvergate’s collapse was on account of…not having sufficient money, resulting in the shortage of capital from the financial institution run.”

And sure, 100% — Silvergate ought to have diversified moderately than put all its eggs within the crypto basket, which is universally understood to be a basket stuffed with spikes and damaged glass susceptible to violent swings.

But additionally … there is a cause the tight-knit community of crypto giants all flocked to Silvergate. Different, better-managed banks did not have the abdomen for it.

I’ve heard the “do not blame crypto” argument a thousand occasions. When FTX imploded, it wasn’t crypto’s fault — it was one unhealthy apple, an old style fraud. And it was the identical story practically a yr in the past, when the Terra/Luna crash final spring worn out billions in a single day — do not blame crypto; these had been poisonous algorithmic stablecoins, you may’t belief these. And ditto when Celsius, Voyager, and Three Arrows all went stomach up within the “crypto winter” of 2022 — we won’t assist that the regulatory frameworks let reckless actors deceive well-meaning buyers…

There’s a kernel of fact in all of these tales, however because the crypto dominoes hold falling, it turns into more durable to disregard the through-line.

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