Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sometimes It's Better Not Knowing

Here's my buddy, the embattled Ken Lewis trying to comfort shareholders Friday as Bank of America's stock plunged as low as $2.53(!) at one point:

"Speculation about nationalization is based on a lack of understanding of our bank's financial position as well as a lack of appreciation for the adverse ramifications for our customers and the economy,"

Now I would never *defend* this buffoon; he's indefensible!

Nor is this the time for jokes about Ken and *lack(s) of understanding*.

But let's examine this situation fundamentally. Why is Ken Lewis out there, seemingly every other day, reacting to fluctuations in his bank's stock price?

Put it this way, if your bank - BAC, C, WFC, JPM, or whoever - wasn't a public company, and didn't have an easily researchable share price, how the heck would you know about any balance sheet woes?

How could you possibly know if there was a *silent run* on it?

You wouldn't.

Consider a *private* bank like USAA where my wife and I actually have some money.

I have no freakin' clue about its finances. Their website says they give out HELOCs and mortgages just like all the other amassers of *poopy collateral*.

So what's worse, being in the dark like depositors at USAA or watching the daily horror show that is the financial news these days and wondering about your nest egg at a, at least for now, publicly traded bank?

While it won't improve the financials, taking away the volatile tickers from the public dialogue will help people sleep at least, maybe.

Though really, just think how how much worse Ken Lewis might have managed the Bank if he didn't have at least a little *sunlight* on him at all times.

I know, it's sort of defies the imagination.

I've written a bunch on Ken - click here.

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