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Brian Moynihan on Elizabeth Warren, social investing and blocked Charlotte streets

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Brian MoynihanBank of America

Brian Moynihan

While several top Charlotte CEOs had plenty to say at this week’s economic outlook meeting sponsored by the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance , Bank of America’s Brian Moynihan was easily the most blunt, opinionated speaker. Maybe it was the nostalgia factor: This week marks his 10th anniversary as CEO of the giant bank, a period in which he has seen a dramatic turnaround in the bank’s public image, profits and promise

A few of his comments:

The U.S. economy is likely to grow at a 1.7% pace in both 2020 and 2021, while global GDP should hit 3.1% next year and accelerate in 2021.

“The U.S. economy has been carrying the world economy in the last decade. …. We need to get [China] back in the game.”

Before the 2008 crash, the US had a $14 trillion economy that has since grown to $20 trillion. During the same period, Europe has grown from $17 billion to $18 billion.

“It makes no difference,” when asked if BofA would suffer if Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a liberal Democrat from Moynihan’s home state of Massachusetts, became president. Rules would probably change dramatically for financial services companies, but “life will go on.” Warren has been a harsh critic of large banks.

“The way to drive real change is to get the major employers and major companies to drive the change,” referring to health care and climate change issues, in particular.

Technology advances are making it much easier for investors of all sizes to align their portfolios with their social principles. That trend will prompt more companies to listen to their investors and make decisions that serve the common good. The way environmentalists are increasingly driving energy policy is an example.

Without mentioning the recent failure of a sales-tax-for-the-arts ballot initiative, he said Charlotte “needs a permanent way of funding the arts … We need that to be a great city.”

He also said what everyone else in the Queen City is saying: “You can’t get down the streets because of all of the construction.”

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