(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts are playing down what appeared to be an alarming slump in US lending in the second half of March, included in data released by the Federal Reserve on Friday.
Commercial bank lending dropped nearly $105 billion in the two weeks ended March 29, the most in Fed data going back to 1973. However, the majority of that reflected a transfer of the assets of collapsed lenders Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank into receivership at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Goldman said.
“The data indicate that these actions are responsible for the apparent decline in lending and therefore give a false signal in the headline data — there was no ‘credit crunch’ (as least as of yet),” the bank’s Michael Cahill and Isabella Rosenberg said in a report late Tuesday.
The duo’s conclusion matches the perspective of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who said Tuesday, “I’ve not really seen evidence at this stage suggesting a contraction in credit, although that is a possibility.”
The Fed’s H.8 report provides an estimated weekly aggregate balance sheet for all commercial banks in the US. Friday’s report noted that domestically chartered banks divested $87 billion in assets to nonbank institutions in the week ended March 29. Goldman said that reflected SVB — noting a FDIC statement that said it will retain about $90 billion of the bank’s securities and other assets.
The release also reported a similar divestiture — which included $60 billion of loans — in the prior week, which Goldman determined was related to Signature Bank. The FDIC had said last week it plans to start marketing Signature’s $60 billion loan portfolio in the coming months.
Still, many economists anticipate that the flow of credit in the US will diminish in the wake of last month’s banking troubles, particularly given an outflow of deposits. The extent to which that does happen could have a major role in determining whether the US economy tips into recession later this year. Commercial bank deposits declined for a 10th straight week, Friday’s data showed.
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