10 Reasons Bank of America Is the Most Hated Bank in America
Continued from previous page
In terms of overall federal subsidies (including TARP), Bank of America was second only to Citigroup ($230 billion compared to $415 billion). None of that got in the way of former B of A CEO Ken Lewis' personal take, a $63 million retirement plan, in addition to the $63 million he scored during the three years before his departure.
8. Bank of America leads the big bank fraud lawsuit settlement tally. So far, it has racked up the largest settlement, $8.5 billion in June, to settle claims related to $100 billion worth of Countrywide-spun mortgage securities backed by faulty loans, with bigwig investors like Pimco, BlackRock, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
B of A is also being sued by state and federal regulators for questionable foreclosure practices and a union benefits plan for hiding foreclosure problems that impacted its share price. It is one of 17 major US financial institutions being sued by the Federal Housing Finance Agency for billions of dollars of mortgage-securities-related losses that may require B of A to potentially repurchase $50 billion worth of allegedly fraudulent securities. Earlier this year, B of A settled for $3 billion regarding bad loans that they had repackaged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as agreed to a $624 million settlement in a securities fraud class-action suit filed by New York Sate and City pension fund regarding Countrywide stock losses. Then there's AIG's August lawsuit, in which AIG wants $10 billion in damages for mortgage-related securities it bought and against which it claims B of A committed securities fraud.
That's a lot of pain for a Federal Reserve-approved $4.1 billion acquisition. Meanwhile, since the settlement didn't lead to a financial restatement, under the supremely elastic (read: useless) Dodd-Frank Act, executives get to keep their related bonuses.
9. Even after lawsuits, B of A would still rather please investors than customers. Investors that won money in the $8.5 billion settlement were upset that B of A was continuing to service loans, instead of foreclosing on them more quickly. Now, B of A had a nasty incentive to kick people out of homes faster, rather than work with them to refinance or restructure mortgages. Two months later, their foreclosure process has, in fact, sped up.
Bank of America foreclosure notices are surging again following a slight robo-signing- related slowdown, meaning they are now sending out a greater increase in default notices (90-day overdue loans) than other banks. The bank has $30 billion in residential mortgage loans in default, which will become foreclosures for thousands of families.
10. Bank of America, despite having been buoyed up by the government, did not pay taxes, and, given its glorious ineptness, will be laying off 30,000 workers. Not only did the bank pay no federal taxes for 2010 (or 2009) by making use of its posted pre-tax loss of $5.4 billion, it actually cited a tax benefit of $1 billion. Meanwhile, it has announced plans to cut up to 30,000 jobs over the next few years as part of its plan to save $5 billion, ostensibly due to the settlements it's paying for engaging in upper-management-approved fraud.
Finally, consider the two reasons that any of this list is possible. One is the Glass-Steagall Act repeal, which enables banks to comingle straight costumer business with reckless securities creation and trading. The second reason is coddling by a Fed that finances and approves every bad move. B of A is the poster child for a Glass-Steagall repeal gone wrong. Lewis pulled in a slew of other banks under the B of A umbrella, making it - at one time - the country's largest bank, including the infamous Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch. Now it has $2.26 trillion in total assets and $1.8 trillion assets in insured subsidiaries, $1.2 trillion of customer deposits ($1.066 trillion in the United States) and about $804 billion in FDIC-insured deposits - all part of the giant, risk-laden mess that is B of A.