Representative Maxine Waters of California, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, said on Wednesday that Congress should contemplate raising the limit on the amount of money in bank deposits that can by covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
“When you have something like Silicon Valley Bank with over 90 percent of its depositors uninsured, do we increase the amount of premiums that banks will pay in order to have a bigger insurance fund or do we just remain the way that we are and take it on a one-by-one basis for consideration?” Ms. Waters said in an interview.
The F.D.I.C. insures deposits up to $250,000 — a tidy sum for individuals but just a sliver of the balances that companies can hold. When Silicon Valley Bank collapsed last week, many business that were unable to pull their money out early were stuck.
That raised fears that businesses on the bank’s client list — which skewed heavily toward start-ups — wouldn’t be able to pay vendors or employees. But regulators stepped in over the weekend, saying all the bank’s deposits would be protected.
Ms. Waters said the issue of deposit insurance was one of several that lawmakers should take up in the wake of the failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, which was taken over by regulators on Sunday.
Lawmakers should also revisit the 2018 rollback of regulations on midsize banks to determined whether loosening requirements for stress testing banks of Silicon Valley Bank’s size was the right idea, or whether it contributed to the bank’s collapse, she added.
Ms. Waters also said that when considering whom to sell the remnants of Silicon Valley Bank to, regulators should avoid deals that would make the biggest banks even bigger.
“I’m not interested in mergers so much,” Ms. Waters said. “I don’t want this country to become a country where we rely on just four or five big banks.”