The Latest: BofA CEO asked about mortgage modifications
The Latest on the appearance of U.S. bank CEOs before Congress (all times local):
The chief executive of one of the largest mortgage lenders in the country said he’s never personally experienced what a mortgage modification is like.
That’s the comment made by Brian Moynihan, the CEO of Bank of America, when he was asked by Representative Madeleine Dean, D-Pennsylvania, whether he’s ever sat with someone going through a foreclosure or a mortgage modification.
Bank of America is the nation’s fourth-largest mortgage lender. During the financial crisis, it purchased Countrywide Financial, which specialized in some of the most toxic types of mortgage selling in the country.
Because of that, BofA paid tens of billions of dollars in fines and penalties to regulators for how it mishandled mortgage lending. It also was tasked with modifying hundreds of thousands of mortgage to save them from foreclosure.
Two members of a House finance panel used their allotted time to ask CEOs from seven of the nation’s largest banks about current threats to the banking system.
Rep. Jim Himes, D-Connecticut, asked all CEOs what they considered to be the products or businesses most at risk in the system.
No CEOs mentioned home mortgages — the product that caused the 2008 financial crisis — but instead the two prominent answers were cybersecurity risks and the growth of lending to companies already saddled with a large debt load.
A Republican Congressman, Steve Stivers of Ohio, asked the CEOs about the biggest non-business risks to the banking system. The CEOs talked about how economic growth is slowing across the globe, and again highlighted cybersecurity as a big risk.
Of the seven bank CEOs appearing in front of Congress on Wednesday, only one was there 10 years ago during the financial crisis: Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase.
The outspoken Dimon has often outsmarted his competitors and has remained at the head of JPMorgan since 2006. He has turned JPMorgan into the nation’s largest bank by assets and profits through several mergers that resulted from the financial crisis.
The rest of the CEOs appearing in front of Congress are either relatively new at their jobs, or came on shortly after taxpayers had to bail out the firms. Lloyd Blankfein, who steered Goldman Sachs through the financial crisis, retired last year. His replacement, David Solomon, is appearing in front of Congress.
Michael Corbat of Citigroup, Brian Moynihan of Bank of America and James Gorman of Morgan Stanley all became CEOs of their respective companies after their predecessors, who were blamed for nearly collapsing the financial system, stepped down.
One former top bank executive seems pretty happy he doesn’t need to appear in front of Congress anymore.
“Boy, I really miss my old job!!!,” wrote Lloyd Blankfein, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, who retired last year. He tweeted out a photo of seven bank executives being sworn in before a House finance committee Wednesday.
Another executive who isn’t in attendance at the hearing is Tim Sloan, who abruptly resigned from Wells Fargo last week, just days after a separate appearance before Congress.
The CEOs of JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and five other banks are appearing before the House Financial Services Committee for a hearing on the stability of the banking system 10 years after the financial crisis, although questions have covered a variety of topics, including CEO compensation and overdraft fees.
Wednesday’s House hearing on banks was nominally about determining how much safer the financial system is, but few finance committee members are raising the subject.
The only representative to ask about systemic risk so far in Wednesday’s hearing was Patrick McHenry, the panel’s top Republican, who asked all seven big bank CEOs if there’s any worries about a financial crisis happening if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal.
Democrats have been asking about non-banking system topics such as concerns on over-the-top executive compensation in the banking industry, and gun regulations. Meanwhile Republicans like Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Missouri, threw softer questions to the executives, asking about how many jobs the industry now creates.
The early, dominant theme from the CEOs of the nation’s biggest banks at Wednesday’s Congressional hearing is simple: We’re grateful, and we are safer now.
All seven heads of the banks have spoken about how they have raised capital, are more diverse, and are more resilient than they were 10 years ago before the financial crisis.
“Since the crisis, (Citigroup) has become a smaller, safer, stronger and far less complex company,” said Michael Corbat, CEO of Citigroup, which required significant financial assistance to avoid collapse.
“There is no doubt that the strength, stability and resiliency of the financial system has been fundamentally improved over the course of the last ten years,” said Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan. “Post-crisis reforms have made banks much safer and sounder in three important areas: capital, liquidity and resolution and recovery.”
Seven CEOs of the largest banks in the U.S. are appearing in front of Congress Wednesday, the largest gathering of heads of the banking industry in Washington since the financial crisis.
Based on prepared testimony, the chief executives of JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, along with the CEOs of five other banks, will tell the House Financial Services Committee they’ve taken steps to improve the stability of their institutions in the 10 years since the financial crisis.
For example, Michael Corbat of Citigroup says that the New York-based bank is now a safer and less complex institution than it was back in 2008.
Committee members are likely to ask the CEOs about recent efforts to pare back some of the financial rules that were put in place following the crisis.