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Bank of America Increases Commitment to Advance Racial Equality and Economic Opportunity to $1.25 Billion

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Expansion will include actions to address racial justice and advocacy for people of Asian descent

Bank of America today announced that it has increased its $1 billion, four-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity to $1.25 billion over five years. This effort further accelerates work already underway to address racial equality and opportunity through direct actions, investments and work to catalyze similar efforts across the private sector.

To date, the company has made more than $350 million in various investments from its initial $1 billion four-year commitment, announced in June 2020, across its primary focus areas of health, jobs/reskilling, affordable housing and small business. Additional funds announced today will further support investments to address racial justice, advocacy and equality for people and communities of color, including those of Asian descent. 

“The urgency we feel to address long-standing issues of inclusion and racial inequality has only increased following the attacks and hate speech directed at Asian people over the last year,” said Bank of America Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan. “Across the public and private sectors, it is clear that we must do more – to take action, help others convene, and serve as a catalyst for a broad-based, collective response to the critical issues affecting our nation.”

The bank also announced an immediate $1 million commitment and related actions in support of increased advocacy, dialogue and engagement with the Asian American community. Further investments will be identified as part of the company’s expanded five-year effort. 

Immediate actions taken to help accelerate and expand pre-existing work include:

  • A grant to the Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) organization to advance the nonprofit’s work to promote civil rights, bystander intervention, in-language advocacy, social services assistance and legal support. This funding supports five Asian Americans Advancing Justice affiliates based in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.
  • The addition of Connie Chung Joe, chief executive officer of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, to serve as a member of Bank of America’s National Community Advisory Council (NCAC), in support of ongoing dialogue and stakeholder engagement with the Asian community in the U.S., and on broad issues of gender and racial equality. Members of the NCAC engage with leaders on Bank of America’s business policies, practices and products in support of employees, clients and local communities.
  • Additional support for the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) and The Leadership Conference Education Fund as the two organizations work to advance local community advocacy, training, and resources through community-based efforts.
  • Increased philanthropic support through Bank of America’s employee matching gift program. Bank of America employees can double their charitable donations to these three nonprofits and select others; the company’s matching gift minimum has been lowered to $1 for the next 90 days, to expand the impact of their support to the Asian community in the U.S.

“The rising number of attacks against Asian people, including the tragic shootings in Atlanta recently, have served as a stark reminder that we must stand united against discrimination, hate speech and violence,” said Thong Nguyen, vice chairman at Bank of America. “We will not tolerate acts of racism in any form. Today’s commitment builds upon Bank of America’s many years of work in support of inclusion and racial equality.”

“Over the past year, we’ve witnessed increased racism and violence against Asian Americans, underlining the significant need for tools and resources to combat these, as well as a need for culturally specific mental health and victim support resources,” said Chung Joe. “We look forward to working with Bank of America and other national advocacy leaders to advance racial equity and create opportunities for all Americans.”

Bank of America’s work to address racial equity includes participation in the Business Roundtable’s new, multi-year effort to improve equity, diversity and workplace culture, and the bank’s partnership with the Smithsonian Institution in support of its “Our Shared Future: Reckoning with our Racial Past” initiative.

Within the company, Bank of America’s Global Diversity & Inclusion Council includes senior executives from around the world and has been led by Moynihan for more than a decade. The company also connects and supports employees through 11 employee networks and local chapters, including the Asian Leadership Network with more than 11,000 members.

Expanding perspectives is a critical aspect of how Bank of America drives a culture of inclusion. Over the last decade, the company has hosted thousands of courageous conversations with employees, external partners and members of the community to cultivate awareness, inclusion and understanding. Sessions held recently include an event hosted by Bank of America’s Asian Leadership Network regarding allyship to address the current climate of race relations in America, particularly in the Asian and Black/African American communities.

Bank of America’s $350 million in commitments since June 2020 include:

Equity capital investments in 12 minority depository institutions (MDIs) and community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to provide lending, housing, neighborhood revitalization and other banking services to thousands of individuals and small businesses that do not qualify through traditional lenders. This includes a new investment in Central Bank, an Asian American MDI.

  • $188 million of investment in 61 private equity funds focused on minority and women entrepreneurs to address the persistent gap in access to growth capital for minority-led businesses.
  • Founding partner of the Smithsonian’s “Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past” initiative exploring how Americans understand, experience and confront race.
  • More than $22 million in grants to national and local nonprofits supporting workforce development, entrepreneurship, health and emergency needs.
  • Partnerships with 21 higher education institutions and major employers to enhance up-skilling and re-skilling for Black and Hispanic-Latino students.
  • More than $13 million committed to Native American Communities hardest hit by the coronavirus.
  • Expanded opportunities for 50,000 women entrepreneurs at the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell.
  • Distribution of 25 million masks to underserved communities across the U.S.

Bank of America also recently tripled its affordable homeownership commitment to $15 billion through 2025 and issued a $2 billion Equality Progress Sustainability Bond designed to advance racial equality, economic opportunity and environmental sustainability. In 2020, the company provided $6.17 billion in affordable housing and economic development financing to help build strong, sustainable communities across the U.S.

The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.

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Banking & Financial Services

2024 Inland Empire Financial Summit: A Milestone in Economic Empowerment

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Uniting Leaders and Innovators for a Thriving Economic Future in Southern California’s Inland Region

The Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce proudly announces the resounding success of the 2024 Financial Industry Update, a landmark event that convened key figures in California’s financial sector. Held on January 18, 2024, at the Ontario International Airport Authority Conference Center, this summit marked a significant moment for economic empowerment and collaboration in the region.

California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, the keynote speaker, expressed her admiration for the region’s financial community: “As State Treasurer, I find constant inspiration in California’s vibrant financial community. The 2024 Financial Industry Update event highlighted not only the dynamic Inland Empire economic landscape but also emphasized the crucial role of collaboration and forward-thinking in our sector. The meaningful discussions and connections formed here reflect our collective dedication to fostering a resilient and prosperous financial future for California. Proud to contribute to this vital conversation, I eagerly anticipate witnessing the positive impacts of our shared efforts unfold statewide.”

Ivo A. Tjan, Chairman, President & CEO of CommerceWest Bank, shared his enthusiasm: “It was an honor to be invited as a guest speaker. The IE has a strong, diversified, and robust business community that is an important economic engine for California. CommerceWest Bank is excited to continue supporting local businesses in the IE and expanding our footprint.”

Hilda Kennedy, President & Founder of AmPac Business Capital, praised the event’s impact: “The Inland Empire Chamber did it again! They brought relevant, high-level content to help businesses plan for success in 2024. State Treasurer Fiona Ma and Ivo Tjan were exceptional! I agree with State Treasurer Ma, the Inland Empire region will save California.”

Christina Scranage, Business Development Manager at Keystone Advanced Solutions, reflected on the event’s value: “Grateful for the insightful conference today! The speakers provided valuable information, making me optimistic about our community’s economic outlook. Huge thanks to everyone involved for such an informative and helpful event!”

The event was highlighted by the participation of industry leaders who provided invaluable insights into the region’s economic landscape. The Financial Industry Update served as a crucial platform for networking, knowledge sharing, and exploring the challenges and opportunities facing the financial sector in the Inland Empire and beyond.

For more information about the event and the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce, visit www.iechamber.org.

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Banking & Financial Services

All Eyes On The Fed… But Will It Change The US Forecast?

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Federal Reserve Policies At The Root Of Recent Bank Collapses; California: A Better Recovery Than We Thought!

The recession forecasted by so many still hasn’t shown up and is looking less and less likely to anytime soon, according to Beacon Economics‘ latest outlook for the United States and California. Moreover, the recent bank failures that have been capturing headlines are being ‘wrongly viewed’ as heralding a coming downturn, something that misses the actual drivers behind the collapses and that key economic data refutes.

“These bank failures are not a reflection of an unhealthy U.S. economy, they are all about Federal Reserve policy,” said Christopher Thornberg, Founding Partner of Beacon Economics and one of the forecast authors. “Sad by true; the body that is supposed to be the wise shepherd of the nation’s banking system is largely responsible for creating the very stressors that caused Silicon Valley Bank to fail, and the run on others to begin.”

According to the outlook, the U.S. banking system, overall, is the victim of quixotic and rapid changes in Fed policy over the last three years as they have tried to maintain both full employment and price stability – which can be mutually exclusive. “In their existential panic over full employment during the pandemic, the Fed destabilized prices by injecting historic amounts of cash into the economy; in their existential panic over price instability, they destabilized the banking system through interest rate increases,” said Thornberg.

The new outlook acknowledges that the sudden crosscurrents from the bank failures have made the forecast fuzzier because stress in the banking system will eventually show up in the broader economy in the form of tightening credit. However, the new forecast does not believe those stressors, on their own, will rise to the level of a recession. “Cash is still king in the U.S. economy,” said Thornberg. “But if the Fed decides to continue raising interest rates in its quest to slow inflation, it will do more damage to the bank credit industry and that will trigger negative consequences for the overall economy.”

Assuming the Fed slows their roll, which they’ve shown some signs of doing, Beacon Economics is expecting slow growth and no recession in the near-term future. The forecast has real U.S. GDP growth in the first quarter coming in between 1% and 2%, although the margin of error has increased given the policy uncertainty.

In terms of the macro economy, the new outlook points to copious evidence of its health: unemployment in the nation remains rock bottom, consumer spending continues despite inflation, earnings growth is still running above 6% for the median worker, U.S. household net worth remains 30% ($30 trillion) higher than it was pre-pandemic, banks are not experiencing an increase in problem loans, and interest rates have started to stabilize causing asset markets to do the same.

In California, the news grew rosier this month after the state released its annual employment revisions, although a declining workforce continues to hamper economic growth. The revision shows that California recovered more and faster from the pandemic’s job losses than previously estimated: There are 197,000 more people employed in the state today than there were pre-pandemic. The original estimates had the gain at a mere 70,000.

However, in terms of the percentage increase, California’s job growth has been about five times slower than states such as Florida and Texas. “The underperformance we’ve seen is certainly not due to any unwillingness on the part of the state’s employers to hire workers,” said Taner Osman, Research Manager at Beacon Economics and one of the forecast authors. “Rather, California’s labor force contracted during the pandemic and there are well over 300,000 fewer workers in the state today than there were before COVID hit; there are simply not enough workers to fill the number of job openings.”

Deeply linked to its declining workforce is California’s famously expensive housing market, where prices surged an astounding 41% during the early days of the pandemic. Today, higher interest rates have led to a collapse in demand and home sales have returned to their pre-pandemic trough. However, home prices remain 27% above where they were pre-pandemic and the new forecast only expects them to fall by 6.3% in 2023. “Given California’s acute long-term housing shortage, it’s not surprising that price drops will be limited,” said Osman. “And this isn’t anything like the Great Recession because consumer balance sheets are so much stronger today and unemployment rates are at all-time lows.”

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Banking & Financial Services

Why the Bank Failures Don’t Change the Economic Outlook (Mostly); Recession Remains Unlikely in 2023, Says Leading Forecast

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Federal Reserve Policies At The Root Of Recent Bank Collapses; California: A Better Recovery Than We Thought!

The recession forecasted by so many still hasn’t shown up and is looking less and less likely to anytime soon, according to Beacon Economics‘ latest outlook for the United States and California. Moreover, the recent bank failures that have been capturing headlines are being ‘wrongly viewed’ as heralding a coming downturn, something that misses the actual drivers behind the collapses and that key economic data refutes.

“These bank failures are not a reflection of an unhealthy U.S. economy, they are all about Federal Reserve policy,” said Christopher Thornberg, Founding Partner of Beacon Economics and one of the forecast authors. “Sad by true; the body that is supposed to be the wise shepherd of the nation’s banking system is largely responsible for creating the very stressors that caused Silicon Valley Bank to fail, and the run on others to begin.”

According to the outlook, the U.S. banking system, overall, is the victim of quixotic and rapid changes in Fed policy over the last three years as they have tried to maintain both full employment and price stability – which can be mutually exclusive. “In their existential panic over full employment during the pandemic, the Fed destabilized prices by injecting historic amounts of cash into the economy; in their existential panic over price instability, they destabilized the banking system through interest rate increases,” said Thornberg.

The new outlook acknowledges that the sudden crosscurrents from the bank failures have made the forecast fuzzier because stress in the banking system will eventually show up in the broader economy in the form of tightening credit. However, the new forecast does not believe those stressors, on their own, will rise to the level of a recession. “Cash is still king in the U.S. economy,” said Thornberg. “But if the Fed decides to continue raising interest rates in its quest to slow inflation, it will do more damage to the bank credit industry and that will trigger negative consequences for the overall economy.”

Assuming the Fed slows their roll, which they’ve shown some signs of doing, Beacon Economics is expecting slow growth and no recession in the near-term future. The forecast has real U.S. GDP growth in the first quarter coming in between 1% and 2%, although the margin of error has increased given the policy uncertainty.

In terms of the macro economy, the new outlook points to copious evidence of its health: unemployment in the nation remains rock bottom, consumer spending continues despite inflation, earnings growth is still running above 6% for the median worker, U.S. household net worth remains 30% ($30 trillion) higher than it was pre-pandemic, banks are not experiencing an increase in problem loans, and interest rates have started to stabilize causing asset markets to do the same.

In California, the news grew rosier this month after the state released its annual employment revisions, although a declining workforce continues to hamper economic growth. The revision shows that California recovered more and faster from the pandemic’s job losses than previously estimated: There are 197,000 more people employed in the state today than there were pre-pandemic. The original estimates had the gain at a mere 70,000.

However, in terms of the percentage increase, California’s job growth has been about five times slower than states such as Florida and Texas. “The underperformance we’ve seen is certainly not due to any unwillingness on the part of the state’s employers to hire workers,” said Taner Osman, Research Manager at Beacon Economics and one of the forecast authors. “Rather, California’s labor force contracted during the pandemic and there are well over 300,000 fewer workers in the state today than there were before COVID hit; there are simply not enough workers to fill the number of job openings.”

Deeply linked to its declining workforce is California’s famously expensive housing market, where prices surged an astounding 41% during the early days of the pandemic. Today, higher interest rates have led to a collapse in demand and home sales have returned to their pre-pandemic trough. However, home prices remain 27% above where they were pre-pandemic and the new forecast only expects them to fall by 6.3% in 2023. “Given California’s acute long-term housing shortage, it’s not surprising that price drops will be limited,” said Osman. “And this isn’t anything like the Great Recession because consumer balance sheets are so much stronger today and unemployment rates are at all-time lows.”

View the new The Beacon Outlook including full forecast tables here.

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