It's All Yours

One century ago, a resourceful Italian immigrant named Amadeo Giannini rescued the meager deposits of his fledgling bank from the fires that followed San Francisco's most legendary calamity, the earthquake of 1906. Days later, with most other banks in ruins and unable to open their vaults, Amadeo was making handshake-guaranteed loans to desperate San Franciscans from behind a makeshift desk on the waterfront.

Our bank was thus born of one of the most notorious disasters in history. Soon, your bank will rise from the ashes of a new catastrophe — this one of human origin.

Today, Bank of America should be on top of the world. We're the second largest bank holding company in the United States and the third largest company in the world. We serve tens of millions of consumers and small businesses in over 150 countries, as well as 80 percent of the Fortune 500 Global Companies. We're the single largest funder of some major US industries, like coal. We're the world’s largest issuer of credit cards, thanks to our 2006 acquisition of MBNA. We're also the number one underwriter of global high-yield debt, and the third largest underwriter of global equity, ever since our 2009 purchase of Merrill Lynch. And thanks to perhaps the best legal team in the world, we paid no U.S. federal taxes in 2010, but received a $1 billion tax refund.

With such an unprecedented combination of size, growth, and ongoing support, we should be flying high. But fate has hatched other plans. Our most recent global earnings statement, and the devastating two-year decline of our stock price — from $50 not long ago, to not far from $5 now — show clearly enough that Bank of America is in full mid-plummet. Should our stock value fall below $5, discussions of federal receivership will have to begin in earnest.

As inevitable as our fall may be, it is our very failure that holds the seeds to a better future. This is because, long before we hit bottom, we will find ourselves in some truly excellent hands: yours. Federal receivership, an age-old practice born of age-old necessity, will save us, and our entire economy, from the worst consequences of collapse — but it will also mean that, moving forward, a new set of eyes, brains, hands, and guts will direct our course: yours.

Your job won’t be easy. We have laid out some lessons to help you avoid the pitfalls we couldn't. Yet what will matter most, moving forward, is being ready to seize control and do what so obviously needs to be done. You may recall how, after a calamitous birdstrike, US Airways pilot “Sully” Sullenberger calmly and skillfully ditched Flight 1549 into the mighty Hudson. Miraculously, all of the passengers lived to tell the tale, not only because of their captain, but because hundreds of folks ferried stricken passengers to safety before the jet could sink to those murky depths.

You are soon to play the role of pilot, passenger, and rescuer of the mighty craft that will soon be your Bank of America. It is on your shoulders to act decisively, and it is on your gut to rebuild the bank of your dreams.

Please let us know how.*

* Bank of America accepts no liability for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided herein, in particular in the event that a hostile takeover bid from a competing bank precludes the option of public receivership. In that instance, any ideas provided on this website will immediately become the sole and exclusive property of the acquiring institution. Thank you.