“They’re not even within 100 miles of Baghdad. They are not in any place. They hold no place in Iraq. This is an illusion…Our initial assessment is that they will all die”
– Iraqi Information Minister aka Baghdad Bob, March 2003
There is denial and then there is willful self-deception. I’ll let you decide which is on display here…
One of America’s most hated companies is determined to find a solution to their image problem with a larger helping of the problem itself. Cecile B. DeMille, with an unlimited budget and a Cast of Thousands, couldn’t produce a more epic fail if he tried.
In the New York Times this weekend we learn the following about Bank of America’s “Chief Image Officer” Anne Finucane…
* She is “comfortable with movers and shakers” – my god.
* She is the person they send to meet with minor functionaries and bureaucrats in backwater towns where they plan to buy up the local banks, gladhanding the rubes and “knowing how to talk to them” – my god.
* She was/is close personal friends with Barney Frank and frequently used her connection to him to attempt to shape policy – my god.
* CEO Moynihan “laughs” that “we all answer to Anne” – oh my god, so funny.
* She’s been with the bank for 17 years, since they bought Fleet after it’s own disastrous foray into predatory lending – my god.
* She personally lobbied to raise the limit on total percentage of US deposits that any one bank could have, which, had she been successful would have meant even Too Biggier To Fail banks and significantly more risk to the financial system – oh my god.
* She was the one who made the decision to axe the $5 overdraft fees on checking accounts as a result of the epic public uproar; I suppose that when they decided to implement that insanely out of touch idea in the first place, she was out at Starbucks or something – my god.
Are they so completely disconnected from anyone outside of their private little game of Monopoly that they totally misunderstand why America has had it already?
To recap: The person who is going to fix Bank of America’s image is a Beltway Insider with political connections who has fought tooth and nail for the bank’s right to sprawl across the country, regardless of the resultant systemic risk and broken financial system that this engendered. In other words, she is a formidable symbol for everything we hate about the Big Banks specifically and the system in general.
And how perfect is that?
Marie Antoinette herself would applaud the obliviousness and tone deafness on display here.
At least Goldman has the guts to hire an actor to play a role called “Lucas Van Praag” – half Bond Villain, half weapons-grade nasty article. At least they admit they don’t really give a shit what anyone thinks (they also don’t have to deal with retail bank depositors in “the Heartland”…)
So really, don’t give us that Image Makeover bullshit or that “The New BAC” drivel. Clearly, the plan is not to fix their image or any such thing, it is to ride out the storm and keep as much of the status quo intact as possible for the next cycle. This a waiting game – hold out long enough so that the economy improves, the tens of billions in mortgage-related lawsuits settle, the memories of foreclosure factories fade away and people find someone else to be mad at.
And since Bank of America has made it this far and is still in business (against every law of bankruptcy and statute of fairness and conceptualization of capitalism we have) they’re likely to be able to pull it off after all.