JCL Blog

Truth in Banker Speak

The advertising industry has benefited significantly from Bank of America's ad budget.  It is hard to imagine a human in North America that does not know about Bank of America's 1.5 trillion dollar pledge.  

I have to wonder if anyone is going to track what this means or if they do it.  

Here is a link to a page on the B of A website with a April 28, 2008 transcript of remarks at the Federal Reserve Public Hearing on the proposed merger between Bank of America and Countrywide Financial Corporation where Liam McGee, President, Global Consumer & Small Business Banking, Andrew Plepler, President, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, and Janet Lamkin, California State President outlined their intentions. 

It is a little long, with each of the three of them taking turns saying the same thing over and over.  Here are the basic details quoted from Liam McGee's part of the transcript:

I am proud to announce Bank of America’s new, and unprecedented, 10-year goal of $1.5 trillion for community development lending and investments. This is the largest community development goal ever by any company in America. In coming years, this goal is certain to enhance quality of life for millions of Americans in need, by:

• helping finance construction of affordable housing throughout the nation,

• providing loans and other needed capital to small businesses,

• supplying consumer loans, including housing finance, for low- and moderate-income and minority borrowers, and

• financing economic development for communities in need.

In addition, our Charitable Foundation is raising its philanthropic giving goal from $1.5 billion to $2 billion over 10 years. This is the most ambitious long-term corporate philanthropic goal ever announced by any company. We are setting this goal despite uncertain economic times.

I am glad that B of A has made a large commitment to community development.  This list however is just a list of things that bankers do.  So the advertisements saying that Bank of America is giving 1.5 trillion dollars back to the community are a little misleading.

Even so, a search on the B of A website for press releases about community reinvestment produced this from November of 2009:  (dramatic music here) 1 billion dollars!  Some simple math tells us that a 10 year campaign starting in April of 2008 is 20 months into its 120 month life or 16% complete.  I am pretty sure that 1.5 trillion is 1,500 billions.  So 1 billion is .067% of goal.  It appears that Bank of America is REALLY going to have to get after this in the remaining 100 months.

Has anyone seen any news items digging into this?  According to CNNMoney we have given B of A 15 billion dollars in bail out money.  

Even with the diminished capacity of the newspapers to do investigative work, this has got to be worth looking in to.