Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has been in contact with key officials in President Joe Biden’s administration in recent days as the regional banking crisis deepens.
People who know about the situation but don’t want to be named because the information is private say that Biden’s staff and Buffett have talked a lot in the last week.The conversations have concentrated on Buffett perhaps investing in the US regional banking industry in some form, but the billionaire has also provided advice and guidance regarding the present instability more generally.
Buffett has a long history of helping banks in trouble by using his cult-like reputation as an investor and his financial power to restore faith in failing institutions.When Bank of America Corp.’s stock dropped in 2011 because of losses from subprime mortgages, Buffett gave the company more money.Buffett also threw a $5 billion lifeline to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in 2008, after the failure of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
Berkshire Hathaway and the White House did not immediately reply to calls for comment. The US Treasury Department refused to respond.
This weekend, US officials did something that had never been done before: they promised to pay back all of the uninsured money that was in collapsed banks.Regional bank stocks fell further this week on worries that the suffering will spread.
Biden’s team, fearful of political backlash, has tried to coordinate backstops that do not require direct government expenditure from taxpayers, such as the Federal Reserve’s activities. Last week, large American banks voluntarily deposited $30 billion to support First Republic Bank, a move that authorities praised as “very welcome.” Any investment or assistance from Buffett or other individuals would follow that strategy, attempting to avert the catastrophe without relying on direct bailouts.