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The market is on the verge of a Lehman-style event as the financial world thrashes in the wake of global banking turmoil, veteran trader Art Cashin says

Art Cashin NYSE
Art Cashin.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

  • The market may be nearing its Lehman moment yet again, Art Cashin told CNBC.
  • The Wall Street vet said certain investors could use the banking crisis for their own financial gain.
  • Cashin blamed the Fed's monetary tightening for the fall of a slew of specialist banks. 

Art Cashin, the director of floor operations at UBS, said the market is nearing a Lehman-esque event as a global banking crisis unfolds.

The Wall Street trading veteran said investors could bet against major financial institutions after the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, warning of an event comparable to the downfall of Lehman Brothers, which triggered the great financial crisis in 2008.

"We are on the edge of what we were doing back when Lehman got in trouble," Cashin told CNBC on Friday. "They were buying credit default swaps and they were buying out-of-the-money options [and] then compounding it by spreading the word."

In the span of a week, Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank were seized by regulators, while Silvergate announced it was winding down operations and liquidating positions.

Panic has spread oversees to Credit Suisse, which saw its stock plunge 30% in a day after a top shareholder said it could not provide further financial support due to a regulatory limit. 

Cashin said the "game is afoot" as certain market participants may try to "agitate things as much as possible" for their own financial gain.

Opportunists could get a list of banks with the largest percentage of uninsured deposits, he noted, and impact shares by bringing these to the market's attention.

"[This] is systemic. The Fed has forced many of these banks to reconfigure their portfolios," Cashin said, pointing to the US central bank's rate hikes.

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