White House Cabinet Room Washington D.C. March 11 3:39 P.M. EDT
Well, thank you very much. And we are having a meeting - a very important meeting - with the, I would say, the greatest bankers in the world, the most important banks in the world, financial centers, and having a good discussion. We're discussing the economy. We're discussing how it relates to jobs and all of the things that are happening right now with the virus that we've become so familiar with.
I'll be making some decisions. I've already made some decisions actually today, but I'll be making some other ones that are very important. And I thought I'd let the press in to hear some of the wisdom from the folks in the room. And, maybe, Brian, I'll start with you. And Brian is the chairman and he's the man at the - at Bank of America. Highly respected. Everybody in this room is at the highest level, highly respected.
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for bringing us together. The CEOs of the large banks here want you to know that because of all the work done on the capital, liquidity, and all the things, as we look forward to uncertainty due to the virus and oil price changes, we're very strongly capitalized. We are in a great position, in terms of liquidity, capital, and strength. But more importantly, we're doing what we do best, which is helping our teammates, importantly, but also our clients and our small-business customers and our medium-sized business customers to continue to have access to credit.
All of us are providing relief to any customer that has an issue of being out of work for the virus. We're - the things we've done in every natural disaster that's occurred in many years.
And we can tell you that, up until the last couple of weeks, the activity has been very strong, and it's still strong. We're still seeing people spend money. We're still seeing people go out. Small-business loans are continuing to grow. Auto loans are growing. Mortgage loans are obviously very strong.
But the real key is, we're well capitalized. We're here to help small businesses, medium-sized businesses, the core American economy run, and to help our consumer clients really weather the storm in case they're directly affected by this.
Thank you, Brian, very much. Yes, please.
I think as part of that, Mr. President, I think it's important to recognize a few things: One is, building off what Brian said, this is not a financial crisis. And the banks and the financial system are in sound shape -
- and we are here to help. That's part of it.
I think second is, when we look at what's going on, in many ways we're going at several challenges at the same time. We woke up - or we went through Sunday in a precipitous drop in oil prices, and we needed to deal with that when the market opened on Monday. Clearly, corona is front of mind for everybody, not just here in the U.S. And I think the market is going through a period of trying to get price discovery and I think, also, trying to figure what is the intermediate- and longer-term health of the economy.
And I think what we saw is we saw some fears on the back of those and some talk about potential recession on the back of those. And I think the market is going through a discovery phase of really trying to figure out what earnings are going to look like and where valuations should be.
I think the good news is that the markets have performed in an orderly way. The infrastructure that supports the markets, I think, has held up through some pretty good tests. There's been some strains along the way, but I think it's held up well and it's been - it's been orderly. And, as Brian said, from the banking perspective, we're here to help. We want to provide liquidity. We want to lend to our small businesses. We want to be supporting our consumer clients.
Well, thank you very much, Michael. That's true. And I think, prior to the coronavirus, it was - it was just all go, and the numbers were fantastic. And we don't even know what the numbers are now. We'll have to see. The numbers from a week ago were great and from two days ago were great, but now we're hitting a patch. And we're going to have to do something with respect to getting this - getting rid of this virus as quickly as possible and as safely as possible.
Our number one - our number one priority is the health of the people of our country. And so we'll be making, most likely, a statement. I'll be making a statement later on tonight as to what I've decided to do and what our country will be doing.
Mr. President, the only thing I would add to what Brian and Michael said is just to, first of all, reiterate that we are all here to help. That is what our institutions do; we're all in a position to do it. And I think we're being very, very thoughtful about how we can do that for both consumers, small businesses, as well as the companies that we deal with.
I think we're all encouraging any of our customers or clients who are having any issues to make sure that they talk to us. We're all developing programs to ensure that, as they and employees and their customers go through the situation, that we're there to be a source of strength, whether it's to help them through issues with their fees, payments, or to be there to lend. That's what we do.
That's great. I'm glad you're saying that. That's great. Because there may be some of that, frankly, more so than you've been used to for the last three years. Right? It could happen.
I appreciate it, Mr. President. I'm glad to be here with my colleagues who run these other institutions. Most of what I'd say would echo what's been said. The banking system is in good shape. The virus obviously poses unique challenges, both for policymakers and for businesses large and small operating across the country. All businesses are very, very focused on their people and taking care of their people.
As part of the banking system, we're looking to help businesses - large, small - individuals any way we can, and are making the same steps and taking the same steps that these other institutions have spoken about.
And so, we'll get through this, but it's going to require some navigation on the part of all of us, and we're focused on doing our part.
I think we're going to get through it very well. And we'll be doing a lot of additional work with small business, as you know. We're going to be adding many billions of dollars, and we're going to be making lots of small-business loans, and the banks are too.
So we'll be - do you have anything to say about that?
Yes, of course. But first I'd like to thank you, Mr. President, for being so aggressive and very specific about protecting the health and safety for employees. And I've very encouraged by the leaders in this industry that are thinking along the same lines about their employees and their community.
But I'd like to point out that SBA has the authority currently, with $18 billion, to provide loans with the support of all the lenders in this room. And they also have the opportunity to extend some of the payment terms up to six months.
So I'm looking forward to working with every one of them to leave no money on the table on those $18 billion so we can provide support for the small businesses.
Yesterday, as you know, we met with the insurance companies - the top companies, the top people in the top companies, like yourselves - and they were very generous. And you know what they did with co-pays and everything else. They're going all out. So we appreciated that very much.
Read the full transcript HERE
You can visit a collection of all White House posts by clicking here.