Everyone is slamming Brian Moynihan for saying something like “we have a right to make a profit,” in defence of the $5 fee on Larry Kudlow’s show on Wednesday.This quote has been getting slammed all around the internet, so we thought we’d clear up what actually happened when Moynihan spoke to Kudlow at a conference for The Atlantic (Kudlow aired a clip Wednesday night on his show).
The show went like this (video clip below):
Kudlow: “You’re like a really famous guy now, and Bank of America has become incredibly famous, all because of $5. I’ve never seen anything like it…. It’s the most famous $5 in the history of the country.”
[Discussion about the Durbin amendment in Dodd Frank’s hit to BofA’s profit on debit cards.]
Kudlow: It’s the first time that I can remember that I’ve “heard a U.S. President directly attack profits.” The President said “banks do not have some inherent right to make a profit.” [This is a mis-quote. The President actually said: you can say to the banks, you don’t just have some inherent right to — you know, get a certain amount of profit.”]
Moynihan: “… I have an inherent duty as a CEO of a publicly held company to get a return for shareholders.”
[More discussion. We hear, for example, that BofA offers a lot of services to card holders.]
Kudlow, later: Do you have anything to say in response to the President?
Moynihan: “I don’t think to engage in the conversation you’re leading to is what’s important. What’s important is being clear to customers, providing services to them, and making a profit that we can return to shareholders.”
It seems to us after viewing the clip below that Kudlow baited Moynihan to use the word “profit,” because the President used it to publicly slam the $5 fee after it was announced.
Kudlow’s stunned about what he calls the President’s “attack” — because it’s like the word profit has become a dirty word in the U.S.
Just one look at how fast the country reacted to what Moynihan said confirms it. CNBC aired the clip at 7:20 PM that night. The media had already heard about it, because the discussion happened at the Ideas Forum (sponsored by the Atlantic, Newseum, and the Aspen Institute.
The Atlantic had something nice up at 6 PM. CNN published something a little more inflammatory at 6:30 PM. It had started to escalate by around 10 AM the next morning.
Somewhere in there, the quote got taken out of context and exaggerated, and within hours after Moynihan said the word “profit,” this quote has been getting slammed left and right.
The strongest reactions are on Twitter:
The video clip is below. A transcript of Kudlow’s conversation with Moynihan is available from CNBC here.