By Keith Mullin, Editor at Large, International Financing Review
The views expressed are his own.
Warren Buffett’s $5 billion injection will not stop the rot at Bank of America.
If anything, it proves that the bank’s naysayers were right to be wary.
In the aftermath of the news, dealers aggressively marked BofA’s CDS levels tighter, and the stock leapt from $6.99 at Wednesday’s close to an intra-day high of $8.80 Thursday. But the stock slid all the way back down to close at $7.65. Even at that momentary intra-day high, it was still down 38 percent YTD and 81.5 percent off the long-term high of October 2007. Hardly inspiring.
Frankly I expected a bit more enthusiasm, but then again given the extent of the bank’s longer-term issues, perhaps my expectations were overdone. CEO Brian Moynihan still has a lot of work to do to avoid the slow grind to ignominy. I think the Buffett episode actually undermines Moynihan and makes him look a bit, well if not a bit of a fool, then certainly desperate.
This is, after all, the man who said publicly that the bank didn’t need to access capital markets, and that he would get the bank up to higher capital adequacy levels and stabilise the ship via a combination of retained earnings (tough in a potentially recessionary environment), disposal of risk-weighted assets ($150 billion or so), lay-offs, and the sale of non-core businesses.