Late last June, Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo told CFC shareholders that Bank of America "will reap the benefits of what we have sowed." And though we were deeply interested seeing how what has got to be the greatest veiled threat EVER would play out, another, possibly more disastrous BAC integration gripped our attention. Today we decided to circle back and see what's been a poppin' re: Bank of Countrywide, and we are delighted to inform you that things are going just great. Here's what Barbara Desoer, the Bank of America executive "in charge of cleaning up and integrating Countrywide" said in an interview with the Charlotte Observer:
Q. Your chief executive (Ken Lewis) recently said that Countrywide is "on fire, in a positive sense." Can you tell us more about what that means?
We're seeing the lowest rates that we've had in a long, long time, so we're the beneficiary of that, with a tremendous amount of volume in both refinancing and purchasing. The capacity that Countrywide brought is enabling us to take advantage of it, so this is reinforcement of "Thank goodness we did the transaction."
Traditionally, fourth quarter takes a meaningful dip in volume, but we've really seen a lot of activity from Nov. 25 forward. That's when the Fed committed to buy up to $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities, in an attempt to bring rates lower. And psychologically, for the consumer, being able to get a rate below 5 percent - that's where the markets are hottest.
Both brands are being very aggressive in marketing. We're paying overtime, extending hours, hiring contractors, hiring full-time employees, taking them from parts of our business that are slower and bringing them into first mortgage.
Q. You've mentioned that you're hiring, but aren't you still cutting jobs as well?
We're on track with the 7,500 (job cuts) that we announced (in June) related to the merger. The next wave of those will really start coming out as we convert systems.