• By The Financial District


Bank of America’s second quarter profits were sawed in half and the consumer banking giant set aside billions of dollars to cover potentially bad loans caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Earnings from the nation’s biggest banks are painting a picture of American families and businesses struggling to pay bills with swaths of the nation’s economy shut down. While consumers have been able to withstand the brunt of the downturn due to the government’s economic stimulus efforts, banks are now bracing for a long, protracted recession that could last well into 2022, Ken Sweet wrote for the Associated Press (AP) late on July 16, 2020.

Combined, the five big Wall Street banks that have reported quarterly results set aside more than $30 billion in the second quarter to cover loans that may be unrecoverable. Those provisions come on top of the tens of billions they set aside in the first quarter when the pandemic first began to bloom.

Bank of America reported a profit of $3.53 billion, or 37 cents a share, down from $7.34 billion, or 74 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Wall Street had actually expected worse, but shares still fell 3.4% in morning trading. Because it is so consumer-focused, BofA is feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic more acutely than other major banks. During the quarter, the bank processed 1.8 million requests for payment deferrals on credit cards, mortgages and auto loans, of which 1.7 billion are still in place as of last week. BofA put aside $4 billion for credit losses, still less than most competitors.