Moody's Downgrades Bank of America (BAC)

September 21, 2011 12:28 PM EDT Send to a Friend
Moody's Investors Service has downgraded the ratings of Bank of America Corporation's (NYSE: BAC) holding company to Baa1 from A2 for long-term senior debt and to Prime-2 from Prime-1 for short-term debt. The long-term deposit ratings of Bank of America N.A. (BANA) were downgraded to A2 from Aa3, while BANA's short-term rating was affirmed at Prime-1. The actions conclude a review for downgrade announced on June 2, 2011. The outlook on the long-term senior ratings remains negative.

The downgrades result from a decrease in the probability that the US government would support the bank, if needed. Moody's believes that the government is likely to continue to provide some level of support to systemically important financial institutions. However, it is also more likely now than during the financial crisis to allow a large bank to fail should it become financially troubled, as the risks of contagion become less acute. Moody's is therefore lowering the amount of support it incorporates into Bank of America's ratings to levels reflected prior to the crisis.

The downgrades do not reflect a weakening of the intrinsic credit quality of BAC. BAC has made significant progress in improving in its capital and liquidity positions, in shedding legacy and noncore assets, in measuring and monitoring risk, and in managing its risk appetite. These improvements have not, however, resulted in an upgrade of its stand-alone financial strength rating or in an offset to the declining assumption of systemic support in the long-term ratings. This is due in large part to the risks that continue to be presented by the bank's exposures in its mortgage business.


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