The life of Brian
Bank of America’s Brian Moynihan says, “It doesn’t all break your way all the time, so you’ve got to just power through it.”
I think he was right, his reasoning was right. I think at the end of the day one of the challenges for a place like Notre Dame is to ensure that they maintain their willingness to have the debate. I think going back to Father Hesburgh [“Father Ted,” the man who led the University of Notre Dame for 35 years], the reason why the university has had such an impact on political leaders and others in this country, is that they’re willing to have debates even though they have a heritage and a particular point of view. It served them well.
When were you last in Ireland?
We went last August . We took my father and mother, and three of my siblings and our children went, so we had about 18 people traveling around in a bus, and it was a lot of fun. We went to Dublin for a few days and then took off down to the southwest. We had a bus driver who had that great Irish humor; we just laughed.
Did you discuss the economy?
He [the bus driver] and other Irish people we met along the way had the common view that it was United States property values and subprime mortgages and all that that created this worldwide financial crisis which was starting to affect Ireland. But at the end of the day, it is local conditions that drive housing prices. Irish housing prices had gotten so out of control relative to what a person could pay that you knew they were going to face what they faced. It’s a classic problem that if you try to outgrow your normal growth rate there’s always a bubble on the other side of it. And as soon as the economy slowed down a little it just all came crashing down. It’ll adjust and come back.
Will the U.S. economy also adjust?
Our view, as a company, is that we’ll start to see a little growth in the latter part of this year and into next year, but the American consumer is still struggling to pay their debts. American companies are more – they’re stabilizing, I think would be the word we’d say right now, in terms of their employment, in terms of their view of their future. They’re not robust and growing but they’re stabilizing, so they’ve come through the worst of it, and we see we’re starting to come out the other side. And I think that bodes well for the whole world because when the American consumer spends, that helps everyone.
The Irish government was the first to guarantee bank deposits. And after its bailout it now has 75 percent voting rights now in Anglo-Irish Bank. How does that compare to here?