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Bank of America to lay off thousands

A man uses ATM in front of a branch of Bank of America in Hollywood, Calif. on Aug. 23, 2011.

Kai Ryssdal: So all this week we've been talking about jobs. All jobs, all the time. Then we come across this irony.

Just as the president's unveiling his half-a-trillion-dollar plan to bring back jobs, word leaks that one of the biggest banks in the country -- Bank of America -- could lay off as many as 40,000 people. B of A calls it a makeover; others quite aren't so polite.

Our New York bureau chief Heidi Moore reports.


Heidi Moore: Just yesterday, Bank of America laid off 3,500 employees. It's likely to cut more than 10 times as many soon.

But if you walk over to Bank of America's skyscraper in Manhattan -- like I did -- you won't find newly demoralized workers. What you'll find is people whose attitude is: "So what else is new?"

Josh Brown: They have to answer the same questions over and over again. Is my parent company viable, is it going to survive, what's going to happen to the assets if it doesn't?

That's Josh Brown, a financial planner for Fusion Analytics. He notes Bank of America have been through two brutal mergers with Merrill Lynch and Countrywide, government help and three years of mortgage lawsuits. Bad news keeps piling up. Which is why Brown doesn't own any Bank of America shares.

Brown: No. I am not a masochist.

Another round of layoffs may not do enough to fix Bank of America. Michael Yoshikami is founder of YCMNet Advisors.

Michael Yoshikami: We don't own Bank of America shares because we're just not clear about what the bottom looks like in terms of their financial issues.

Bank of America is trying to become a leaner, more profitable bank. That means potentially unwinding some of the mergers at the root of its problems.

Brown: They got big eyes, bigger than what their stomachs could handle. That's how a great consumer bank ends up becoming basically a trash pile of financial assets.

Bank of America's CEO plans to outline his makeover plan on Monday.

In New York, I'm Heidi Moore for Marketplace.

About the author

Heidi N. Moore is The Guardian's U.S. finance and economics editor. She was formerly the New York bureau chief and Wall Street correspondent for Marketplace.
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