Bank of America’s Race to Avoid Public Shaming Underscores the Perils of the Crisis
(Bloomberg) -- For 93 uncomfortable minutes, Bank of America Corp. rushed to escape infamy this week, before it was saved by the grace of James Corden, the affable talk show host known for crooning in cars with stars. The drama began when California Governor Gavin Newsom called out the bank for not offering 90-day grace periods to mortgage borrowers affected by the coronavirus, despite such pledges by rivals including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. A journalist tweeted the lashing, and then Corden reposted it to his 10.7 million followers. One of the industry’s most senior leaders put it this way: The country’s banks are strong and ready to support the economy -- but they can’t afford to lend irresponsibly to clients who can’t repay. There are also ethical questions: Banks must walk a “fine line” to prevent desperate clients from overburdening themselves with debts they can’t repay, Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat told the Financial Times this week.