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BofA CEO Moynihan: Fed 'has won' in quest for soft landing

Bank of America (BAC) CEO Brian Moynihan says the Federal Reserve “has won” against inflation, but pressures like the strength of the US consumer may keep interest rates higher for longer.

Speaking at a luncheon hosted by the Economic Club of New York on Wednesday, Moynihan said the Federal Reserve needed to tame inflation by slowing the spending pace of the US consumer — and according to the bank's own data, that strategy has worked.

“If you're trying to engineer a soft landing … or something close to that, in balance, when you look at the current data, they’ve won,” Moynihan said of the Federal Reserve.

Bank of America’s stock rose 0.44% Wednesday as of 3:00 p.m. ET. This year, the stock has lagged peers, falling 17.5% since the beginning of January.

Moynihan said that BOA's checking account database of 68 million customers shows that US consumers have “slowed down” and are currently on pace to spend at pre-pandemic rates “consistent with 2016, 2017, 2018.”

“They knew that they came late. They caught up fast. But now they have an equal and opposite problem. They’ve got to be careful they don’t go too far,” he added.

Moynihan said Bank of America expects the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates “one more time” in November, followed by three rate cuts in 2024 and four in 2025. The US, he added, “won’t have a recession,” but “very slow [GDP] growth” for the second and third quarters of next year. Quarterly GDP, he said, would climb back above 1% by the end of next year.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 27: Chairman and CEO of Bank of America, Brian Moynihan speaks during
Chairman and CEO of Bank of America, Brian Moynihan, speaks during "Mornings With Maria" at Fox Business Network Studios on July 27, 2023, in New York City. (John Lamparski/Getty Images) (John Lamparski via Getty Images)

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon, meanwhile, hasn't been quite as cheery. Earlier this week in an interview with the India Times, Dimon said he was cautious about the global economy. Given heightened concerns over the Ukraine War and food scarcity, geopolitical pressures could also push US interest rates to 7% — and he said he did not believe “the world is prepared.”

When asked if he is cautious like Dimon, Moynihan agreed “there’s geopolitical risk everywhere.” He added that that one key issue he worries about for the US is “fighting inflation … and not have it too influenced by political outcomes.”

Like Dimon, Moynihan joined other executives in speaking out against new bank capital requirements proposed by regulators in July. The proposed rules would have big banks set aside an aggregate 16% more capital to protect against potential future losses.

Moynihan framed the requirements as being an issue of American economic competitiveness. If US banks must hold more capital to lend to customers than rivals in other countries, the US banking system will lose its edge.

“We'll see it play out,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to get done, I think.”

David Hollerith is a senior reporter for Yahoo Finance covering banking.

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