The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank has dominated the news in the last few days because it’s the second-biggest bank failure in US history and the worst since the financial crisis of 2008. As we reported, the bank’s CEO, Greg Becker, got ahead of the storm, selling $3.6 million in the company’s stock before it failed, so it looks like he’ll be okay despite many other folks not being able to get their money. Turns out, other top executives did too:
Before the collapse, executives sold shares.
Gregory Becker, CEO, sold 11% on Feb 27, 2023.
Michael Zucker, Counsel, 19% on Feb 5.
Daniel Beck, CFO, 32% on Feb 27.
Michelle Draper, CMO, 25% on Feb 1. THEY ALL KNEW. @GavinNewsom …u want to curry some points ? Put them in JAIL !
— FADDE (@fadde) March 11, 2023
As the scrutiny intensifies, and we try to determine exactly what happened, it not surprisingly turns out that the institution was heavily involved in green energy and woke ideals. Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus zeroed in during an appearance on Fox News with host Neil Cavuto:
I feel bad for all of these people that lost all their money in this woke bank. You know, it was more distressing to hear that the bank officials sold off their stock before this happened. It’s depressing to me. Who knows whether the Justice Department would go after them? They’re a woke company, so I guess not. And they’ll probably get away with it.
First, Marcus levels Joe Biden and his crazed economic policies, then at the 58-second mark he talks about SVB’s woes. Watch:
Did the bank underwrite solid goods like hammers, wood, and construction materials—things that the Home Depot founder himself found immense success with? No—you probably won’t be stunned to find out their interests took a totally different path:
The bank’s website bragged about its particular support of solar, hydrogen, and energy-storage companies. It provided more than half a billion dollars in revolving credit to Sunrun, the country’s largest residential solar company. (Sunrun did not respond to a request for comment by press time.)
And more than 60 percent of community solar financing nationwide involved SVB in some capacity, the bank claimed on its website.
Apologies if I sound jaded, but the $570 million in wasted taxpayer money on the Obama-sponsored Solyndra fiasco still weighs on my mind—a costly boondoggle that even the Washington Post had to admit was “infused with politics at every level.”
Marcus is critical of the bank’s focus:
“I think that the system, that the administration has pushed many of these banks into [being] more concerned about global warming than they do about shareholder return. And these banks are badly run because everybody is focused on diversity and all of the woke issues and not concentrating on the one thing they should, which is, shareholder returns,” the Home Depot co-founder said.
I took a deep dive into woke investing in my conversation with the clean-living but anti-ESG investor and founder of the “orphan index” ($ORFN) Mark Neuman; it’s worth a read. ESG sounds great, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Although you can’t tie all of SVB’s woes to clean energy—many experts are pointing to its untimely reliance on bonds—one can’t help but notice a pattern here. Massive investments, either financed directly by the government or made possible by fed policy, are routinely poured into the sector, only to be lost in spectacular fashion.
While the idea of “green” energy sounds like a great idea—often it turns out to be just one giant grift.