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Bank of America Credit Cards Less Than Prime

Posted by Larry Doyle on August 24th, 2009 3:20 PM |

Why are banks tightening credit to the extent that they are extending credit at all? The mere fact that so many of their current loans and credit lines are increasingly delinquent and defaulting. Of the largest credit card outfits, one bank stands out as holding the worst performing credit card portfolio. Who might that be? Bank of America.

In fact, by banking standards Bank of America’s credit card portfolio would be considered sub-prime. Bloomberg highlights this development in writing, Bank of America Shuns Sales of Card Debt, Ducks Subprime Label:

Bank of America Corp., saddled with the worst credit-card default rates among its biggest rivals, is shunning the asset-backed securities market it tapped for $13.7 billion last year.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and American Express Co. are among issuers that sold $21 billion of card-backed debt this year through the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, a Federal Reserve lending program to spur bond sales. Bank of America, the only major card-issuer that didn’t sell any, lacks enough quality loans in its credit-card trust to sell TALF bonds without being labeled a subprime issuer.

“I don’t doubt that Bank of America would like to re- engage that market,” said Michael Nix, who helps manage $600 million, including shares of the lender, at Greenwood Capital Associates in Greenwood, South Carolina. “The credit-card securitization market is starting to thaw, but there still isn’t a lot of demand, so the cost of issuance may be higher than the bank thinks is worthwhile.”

Christopher Feeney, a spokesman for Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America, declined to comment.

Bank of America’s 13.82 percent credit-card default rate in July, the highest among the biggest lenders, helps explain why loans in its credit-card trust are shy of the threshold that would allow it to sell debt through TALF and be labeled a prime issuer

Why is BofA’s credit card portfolio so much worse off than its major competitors and what are the implications of this reality? (more…)






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