The Silicon Valley Bank was closed down today by Californian regulators. Brought back memories of bank failures which I witnessed over the years in London.

Most memorable was the forced shutdown of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) with headquarters in Karachi and London in the 1991. For those in the know, BCCI was frequently referred to as the “Bank of Crooks and Criminals International” for its penchant for catering to customers who dealt in arms, drugs, and hot money. 

Certainly the most dramatic collapse was the sudden forced closure of four Kuwaiti banks around Marble Arch the morning after the surprise invasion of Saddam Hussein.  I’ll never forget the sight of fevered throngs of expatriate Kuwaitis pounding desperately  on closed doors while hastily erected hand written  cardboard signs in the windows told them to “Go Home…No money!!”

Below is a pic I took at the start of the financial crisis of 2008 when the Northern Rock became the first failure of an English bank in 140 years. A clear market “sell” sign if ever there was one. What I thought at the time was a small failure of a minor regional bank would become swept up into a world wide financial contagion. Let’s hope for a better outcome this time!!

Got to give it to the English, they can politely queue…… even in a banking collapse!! 

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