In anticipation of becoming Wikileaks next victim, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan is spending millions of dollars on crisis management, even trying to corner the market on unsavory web urls like www.brianmoynihansucks.com. He would do better to address the root causes of why so many Americans are angry at Bank of America.
Here are five things Moynihan could do to restore confidence in Bank of America and help American families recover from the crisis that the bank has done so much to prolong.
1. Stop throwing people out of their homes unnecessarily
Bank of America should allow homeowners who are underwater to refinance at current interest rates and property values. This would go a long way toward reviving the American housing market and stimulating job creation. It would also be in the interest of most investors, who lose out when homes go into the costly process of foreclosure. Bank of America runs the largest foreclosure mill in the history of the United States. By refusing to offer principal reduction to more than a handful of homeowners, Bank of America executives are putting their short-term interests ahead of the bank's shareholders and investors.
2. Stop financing predatory payday lenders
Bank of America should immediately cut off its financial ties to Advance America, EZCorp, Cash America, and Dollar Financial, four of the five largest payday lenders in the United States. One of the most odious practices of Bank of America is providing a line of credit of $265 million at a 3% interest rate to Advance America, which turns around and makes loans at 400% interest rates to working people. Instead of facilitating loan sharks that prey on families, Bank of America should make small dollar credit available at reasonable interest rates.
3. Reinvest in the communities that have been hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis
Bank of America should reinvest in communities that have been devastated by vacant foreclosed homes as a result of the bank's mortgage practices. Bank of America owns tens of thousands of vacant homes, many in disrepair. It should transfer these properties to non-profit community development organizations and provide financing to rehabilitate them as affordable housing for families. This would create much-needed jobs and help these communities begin the long process of recovery.
4. Stop sending checks to politicians
Despite taking tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer bailout assistance, Bank of America has continued to spend huge sums to win the favor of politicians at the state and national level. Brian Moynihan should promise to stop sending checks to politicians and to the industry groups that are trying to undermine financial reform regulations.
With assets of $2.3 trillion Bank of America is simply too big for America and for its own good. Its gargantuan size gives it an unfair advantage over small banks and far too much political influence over our democracy. Bank of America will continue to act recklessly because it knows that when push comes to shove its failure would drag down the American economy. Sooner or later Bank of America will be back for another bailout. CEO Brian Moynihan should bite the bullet and begin selling off pieces of the bank so that it competes based on the quality of its customer service not its unfair market advantage.
Bank of America began as a small San Francisco bank serving the needs of immigrants who were denied access to credit by other banks. It would be wise to return to those roots. By swallowing up local banks across the country Bank of America has become an unwieldy conglomerate that cannot even provide basic customer service and keep track of documents. That's been bad for America and bad for Bank of America. But there is still time to change. Memo to Brian Moynihan: the real threat to your institution is not on the web, but your own reckless and harmful practices.
Sign the petition asking the State Attorneys General to hold Bank of America and the other big banks accountable for their mortgage fraud.