Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bank of America - Lewis vs Bernanke

Bank of America (BAC) President and CEO Ken Lewis claims he was bullied into it. Bernanke says what me! Congressional committees sit and cannot tell who’s who and what’s what. Bank of America is what it is. The management team will have to work their way out of it. The most powerful financial institution in the USA and arguably on the planet says they did not bully anyone. The very nature of their power is make or break. So when they speak to mere mortals, who must toil for their existence, the mortals may conclude that there was some kind of bullying involved. Human rights issues will not apply, there was too much money at stake.

The financial world as we know it was burning down. There was some panic and jostling as we entered the escape hatch. Now, Ken Lewis wants to blame the Fed Reserve, because they were the most powerful guys around. Did the Fed Reserve want him to do the Merrill deal; certainly. Did Ken Lewis bite off more than he could chew; certainly. Does Ken Lewis not understand signals from the Fed; certainly.

Ken Lewis tried to bitch slap Bernanke. It did not work. Federal politicians will preserve the power and privilege of federal institutions. If they have to fry up a big bank CEO with hearing difficulties, no problem.

So what does the Bank of America board do now? The CEO cannot substantiate public claims. There is a nasty tension that does not create shareholder wealth.