US banks are failing, and the authorities seem unlikely to intervene

Shares in two more US regional banks have been suspended. Regulators moved in to halt trading in Los Angeles-based PacWest and Arizona’s Western Alliance on Thursday after they became the latest victims of an escalating crisis that began with Silicon Valley Bank in March.

The message from central banks and bank supervisors is that this is not a rerun of the global financial crisis of 2008. That may be true. With the exception of Switzerland’s Credit Suisse, European banks have escaped the turmoil. It is specific US banks that are the problem.

There are a number of reasons for that: the business models of the banks concerned; failures of regulation; the large number of small and mid-sized banks in the US; and the rapid increase in interest rates from the country’s central bank, the Federal Reserve.