The Failure of SVB and Signature Bank Has Little Impact on Deep Sea Fish

The rattail Coryphaenoides armatus (abyssal grenadier) on the Davidson Seamount at 2253 m depth

Fish Ratings – San Francisco – 17 Mar 2023: The sudden failure of SVB Financial Group (Unrated) in California represented the largest bank failure in the U.S. since the 2008-09 financial crisis. Signature Bank (Unrated), a New York-based bank, has also failed. We have examined the implications for species of fish that live in the briny deep, miles down below the ocean’s surface, where even the sun’s rays do not penetrate.

Regulators have stepped in to provide additional liquidity to support the banking system by backstopping deposits in the two failed banks above the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s insured limits.

Fish enthusiasts are now attempting to determine if these bank failures will spill over and potentially affect other financial institutions, as well as various species of fish.

Fish Ratings immediately leaped into action, dispatching deep-sea divers to the murky depths to check on a number of our rated species and assess their exposure to the failure of SVB and Signature Bank as well as to address the implications for them if there is possible contagion in the banking sector.

Common deep-sea fish include the Lanternfish (BB-; stable outlook), Flashlight Fish (BBB+; stable outlook), Cookiecutter Shark (BBB; stable outlook) and Anglerfish (B-; positive outlook). These organisms have evolved various adaptations to survive and are often repulsive to human eyes. Since many of these grotesque creatures live in regions where there is no natural light, they cannot rely solely on eyesight to locate prey and mates and avoid predators. Many of them are blind and rely on their other senses, such as smell and the ability to detect changes in pressure, to catch food and avoid being caught. Those that aren’t blind have large and sensitive eyes, which can be as much as 100 times more sensitive to light than human eyes. Creepy and gross.

Those fish that we were able to observe indicated no to minimal exposure to SVB or Signature Bank. The potential impact from contagion to the rest of the banking sector is not believed to be likely to affect them materially.

Photo by NOAA/MBARI, Public Domain.

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