It appears the rats are jumping the Bank of America ship…
The next real serious challenge for the Obama Administration is going to be dealing with the banks. The foreclosure crisis is just the tip of a very deep iceberg. While BOA has paid back the TARP funds, it appears they didn’t use a penny of the money to get the rats and thugs out of their operations…
I believe the only way to do that is criminal investigation and prosecution.
It was only last April that Bank of America Corp. was making fools out of the doomsayers who had called for its nationalization a year earlier. Taxpayers had gotten their bailout cash back. Investors who bought its shares at the bottom were making a killing. Government leaders lauded the company’s rescues, both of them, as a great success.
Now the bank may be on the verge of trouble again. Its stock has fallen 41 percent since April 15. Mortgage-bond investors are demanding untold billions of dollars in refunds. The foreclosure fiasco is metastasizing. A member of the Troubled Asset Relief Program’s oversight panel, AFL-CIO attorneyDamon Silvers, openly worried at a hearing last week about the risk that Bank of America might need another bailout.
A few more months like the last one, and we may be wishing Bank of America had never returned its $45 billion of TARP money.
You wouldn’t know there’s anything wrong with Bank of America by an initial look at itsbalance sheet. The company showed common shareholder equity, or book value, of $212.4 billion as of Sept. 30. And its regulatory capital ratios have risen steadily throughout the year.
Judging by its shrinking stock price, though, investors are acting as if Bank of America is near a tipping point. Its market capitalization stands at $115.6 billion, or 54 percent of book value. That’s the second-lowest price-to-book ratio among the 24 companies in the KBW Bank Index, and well below the 76 percent ratio the company was at in October 2008 when it landed its first round of TARP dough. Put another way, the market is saying there’s a $96.8 billion hole in Bank of America’s balance sheet.
When I asked Jerry Dubrowski, a Bank of America spokesman, about the disparity, he said: “I’m not going to comment on the book value and the stock price.”
It may be the shares are a bargain at $11.52, if the company’s books are right. Another plausible scenario is that Bank of America’s management, led by Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan, has lost so much credibility with investors that the stock’s decline might start feeding on itself.
The problem for anyone trying to analyze Bank of America’s $2.3 trillion balance sheet is that it’s largely impenetrable. Some portions, though, are so delusional that they invite laughter. Consider, for instance, the way the company continues to account for its acquisition of Countrywide Financial, the disastrous subprime lender at the center of the housing bust, which it bought for $4.2 billion in July 2008.