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HomeBank Capital‘It’s Déjà Vu’: Credit Suisse Faces a Big Loss From Familiar Troubles

‘It’s Déjà Vu’: Credit Suisse Faces a Big Loss From Familiar Troubles

Credit Suisse’s disclosure on Tuesday that it will lose almost $5 billion and remove two top executives after its involvement with Archegos Capital Management, the collapsed investment fund, has a familiar ring to anyone who lived through the last big financial crisis more than a decade ago.

Once again, hidden risks from opaque financial transactions have devastated a blue-chip bank, punished shareholders and ruined careers, raising questions about whether reforms to financial regulation went far enough.

Credit Suisse said it had enough capital to satisfy regulators, and there was no sign its problems were in danger of causing a broader financial crisis.

But its troubles with Archegos, the latest in a series of debacles that have battered the Swiss lender’s reputation, serve as a warning of the risks that may lurk in the financial system as bankers and investors try to earn returns when interest rates are at rock bottom and stock values are already frothy.

And the eye-popping losses showed that increased scrutiny of lenders during the last decade has not stopped some of the same kinds of behavior that caused the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, setting off a financial crisis and severe economic downturns in the United States and Europe.

“It’s déjà vu,” said Thomas Minder, a member of the Swiss Ständerat, which is similar to the United States Senate. Reforms after the last financial crisis did not address some of the underlying causes, Mr. Minder said, such as outsize bonuses that encourage excess risk-taking by bank executives.

“I’m not surprised at all,” said Mr. Minder, a vocal critic of Credit Suisse. “It happens every few years.”

In a way, Credit Suisse has provided a backhanded endorsement of the safeguards that regulators worldwide put in place after 2008. Defying intense lobbying by the banking industry, central banks and bank supervisors forced lenders to use more of their own money in transactions by raising capital requirements.

Those capital buffers are one reason that the turmoil at Credit Suisse has not caused a broader panic. But Nicolas Véron, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said the crisis at Credit Suisse demonstrated that regulators needed to be vigilant as investors chased returns in a world where interest rates on bonds were sometimes negative and stock prices were already stratospheric.

Credit Suisse, Mr. Véron said, could be “a straw in the wind that suggests there is a relaxation of risk management within banks because it is so difficult to make money on interest margins.”

Credit Suisse has unintentionally rivaled Deutsche Bank for the title of Europe’s most accident-prone lender. Credit Suisse did not require a direct bailout from the Swiss government in 2008 after Lehman’s collapse, but it was deeply involved in the subprime mortgage crisis. In 2017, the bank agreed to pay $5.3 billion in penalties…

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