Speaking at the Atlantic Idea Fest earlier this week, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan sat down for a televised interview with CNBC’s Larry Kudlow. Defending the bank’s new $5 per month debit card fee, Moynihan invented something he called the “right to make a profit.”
But another segment of the interview sheds a great deal of light on how Bank of America sees its role in the economy. A year ago, Bank of America was among the many banks caught in a sweeping “robo-signing” scandal, in which documents were allegedly fabricated in places all over the country in order to foreclose on more homes. Although Bank of America has continued using robo-signing tactics today, Moynihan and Kudlow dismissed the potentially massive fraud, and bantered about how faster foreclosures could be great for the country:
KUDLOW: Isn’t it fair to say the faster the foreclosure, the better off we’re going to be? And I know there’s pain. But of course, some people lose, other people win. Young families come in, they’re going going to get very low prices. But the point is, the faster we clear our the unsold inventory, the sooner this country might start creating jobs in a real economic growth situation. Is that fair?
MOYNIHAN: You can look at the markets and see where the markets have had the inventory cleared, you’re seeing prices stabilize.
KUDLOW: So these attorneys general around the country that were blocking you because there were a few bad robo-type-letters or whatever they were, robo-signing letters. They’re keeping the economy on its back because they won’t let the housing market adjust and they’re all over Bank of America, you’re like their favorite guy.
Praising the speed of foreclosures in California, Moynihan said the state has “faired reasonably well” considering the housing market. His remarks might have been aimed at California Attorney General Kamala Harris. Harris recently withdrew from the multi-state settlement deal with the banks, in part because of her concern with the big banks’ attempt to gain legal immunity for the robo-signing fraud.