I think more than a few people were taken aback on Monday when, after posting a $2.5 billion dollar profit for the first quarter (NYT: Bank Profits Appear Out of Thin Air), Bank of America’s stock dropped by more than 25%.
I really hope no one was more shocked than Lelsie Stahl of 60 Minutes. As she read the news in the papers on Tuesday, wondering aboutÂ how it happened, I hope she also wondered whether her job is in jeopardy. Looking back at her 60 Minutes segment about Bank of America from October, it seems she produced one of the most un-investigative reports of all time.
Watch her journalist skills in action–after the collapse of Lehman and after the intial TARP bailout–as she cuddles up with the CEO of Bank of America Ken Lewis and looks on in admiration and appreciation when he says he “deeply believed” that it was his patriotic duty to take the money, infering he wouldn’t have done it otherwise, and how he believes bank executives make too much money.
This is the same Bank of America that has now run its tab with the U.S. government up to $163 billion, when including both preferred stock options and asset guarantees, but apparently still needs an extra $36.6 billion just to catch up to its other crippled peers.
And those bank executives that are making too much money? They are getting a 70% hike in their base salaries just to skirt the bonus restrictions imposed by the new administration.
Lewis smoothly sails along throughoutÂ the whole puff piece (looking back puff piece might be an understatement), while Stahl remarks that “one of the reasons bank of America is doing so well is your decision not to get into sub prime mortgages,” and then rewards Lewis for his apparent prescience by declaring, “during this crisis people are taking money out of other banks and putting it in his.”
The entire segment is worth a watch, especially at the climax where both Stahl and Lewis share a laugh with each other as she states, “Well if youâ€™re number one and the idea was to compete with New York or Wall Street, you won!”
Lewis then smirks, perhaps not quite understanding how he was getting away with this, and remarks, “Yes, we have won in that sense.”