A key member of President Donald Trump’s new advisory committee on reopening the economy is signaling that the administration should stay focused on fighting the coronavirus and keeping Americans financially stable rather than immediately getting people back to business as usual.
Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan told reporters Wednesday that in the "war" against the virus "you have to work hardest to protect the people who are fighting the war for you" — medical professionals and first responders. Second, he said, there is a need to provide financial protection to people who lost jobs because of the nationwide shutdown, via unemployment benefits, stimulus payments and small-business assistance.
"We’re trying to give them the advice, the more you can keep people stabilized in their ability to meet their obligations and keep their family fed and housed and things like that, that is what you should be focused on until you can reopen the economy," he said on a call to discuss the bank’s latest earnings report.
Moynihan indicated that Bank of America is in no rush to call its employees back to the company’s offices.
Since early March, the bank has moved more than 150,000 people to work-from-home status and deployed 90,000 laptops, he said. Moynihan said the bank is stable, under control and "serving customers at volumes that are pretty remarkable." For example, the bank helped launch the so-called Paycheck Protection Program small-business rescue with people working virtually.
"We’ll bring people back — first, when we’re allowed to — but we’ll also bring people back on a view that we don’t want to change course of action until we know it’s going to be stable," he said. "Once we got the people here, we actually have the luxury to hold off longer."