Too big to fail

So this is what happens when you spend billions of dollars propping up sick, zombie banks. Eventually the rotting husk falls over of its own dead weight. H/t Ron:

Bank of America Corp. has told regulators that it is willing to retreat from some parts of the country if its financial problems deepen, according to people familiar with the situation.

Executives at the Charlotte, N.C., financial giant put the potential move on a list of emergency scenarios submitted to the Federal Reserve last year, these people said. While people close to Bank of America insist that no retreat is imminent, even the possibility of selling branches and losing customers it spent huge sums to lure underscores the depth of its problems.

Among the 7,400 U.S. banks and savings institutions, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. are the only coast-to-coast giants. For the past 20 years, Bank of America and predecessor NationsBank Corp. relentlessly acquired other financial institutions in a form of manifest destiny that shook the U.S. banking industry. The 1998 takeover of BankAmerica Corp., of San Francisco, and 2004 purchase of FleetBoston Financial Corp., Boston, left the combined bank with sizable muscle in nearly every large metropolitan area in the country.

Over the course of its long expansion, Bank of America, currently the country’s second-largest bank by assets, pushed its way into every nook and cranny of the financial system. But in doing so the bank left itself more exposed than any major bank to the severe economic downturn of 2008-2009, the weak recovery since and a litany of mortgage-related lawsuits.

Bank of America stumbled at a time when the entire U.S. banking industry was going through its worst crisis since the 1930s, prompting a federal bailout of many of the nation’s largest financial institutions. Still, some of Bank of America’s worst wounds, particularly its 2008 purchase of Countrywide Financial Corp., were self-inflicted.