How First Republic Bank Received a $30 Billion Lifeline

Jamie Dimon and Janet Yellen were on a call Tuesday, when she floated an idea: What if the nation’s largest lenders deposited billions of dollars into First Republic Bank, the latest firm getting nudged toward the brink by a depositor panic.

Dimon was game — and soon the chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. was reaching out to the heads of the next three largest US lenders: Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co.

All month, the nation’s banking giants have been raking in deposits from nervous customers at smaller firms — and now those behemoths would be taking some of their own money and handing it to a San Francisco bank in distress, trying to stanch a widening crisis.

Over two days of frantic phone calls, meetings and some arm-twisting, the CEOs of 11 banks agreed to chip in a total of $30 billion for First Republic, promising to park the money there at least 120 days.

The hope is that’s enough to save First Republic, known for its outsize business catering to wealthy tech executives. Or perhaps at the least, the cash will give the firm enough time to find another solution, such as a sale.

Such is the new-new-new line in the sand as the authorities in the US and Europe try to quell the Panic of 2023.

Already the rescue spearheaded by Dimon is sparking comparisons to the Panic of 1907, when J. Pierpont Morgan — who built up the company Dimon now leads — corralled Wall Street financiers into his private library and browbeat them into propping up the Trust Company of America, seeking to stop a string of bank runs that threatened to upend the industry.

One reason strong banks stepped forward then was that US authorities had little ability to do so, which led to the creation of the Federal Reserve. This time regulators were already scrutinizing First Republic, raising the prospect of emergency government intervention — and political blowback for years to come.