Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan downplayed the risk of a recession on Monday, saying that odds that the economy will tip into a contraction “get overquoted.”
In an interview with CNBC, the head of Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) acknowledged that the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes will slow the economy and have raised the chances of a recession. However, he noted that few economists have specifically predicted that a contraction is on the horizon.
“The probability [of a recession] is rising, the fear is going up, but the reality is that no one is really saying ‘there will be a recession,'” Moynihan said.
Calling the Fed’s current task of fighting inflation a “tough job,” Moynihan suggested that the economy’s path in the next couple of years will largely turn on whether the central bank can properly balance controlling price increases with maintaining economic growth.
“It’s a job [Fed policymakers] are getting after much faster than they’ve done before and we’ll have to see if they can get the balance right,” he said.
The BofA CEO added that the economy continues to get support from strong consumer balance sheets, which he says are still flush with stimulus money from the pandemic.
“The notion that people are spending the stimulus down isn’t happening yet. It may happen, but it hasn’t happened yet,” he said.
Commenting on the impact of higher rates, Moynihan argued that rising wages could offset the impact that increased interest rates will have on the mortgage market. He noted that the current slowdown in mortgages is coming from the refinance market, not from new purchases.
BAC has declined more than 20% so far in 2022, reaching a 52-week low last week of $32.96. The stock is edging higher in pre-market action on Monday, rising about 1% to a level of $34.24 at about 8 a.m. ET.
For more on BAC’s prospects in the current tricky economic environment, read a deep dive from Seeking Alpha contributor David Alton Clark, who says of the stock: “the worm has turned.”