Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan believes the United States is “starting to win the war” against COVID-19, with the economy reaching “approximately” pre-pandemic levels.
The economy shrank significantly during the pandemic, shrinking by about 3.5%: More than 400,000 small businesses closed, and some Americans had to rely on incentives to check to make some purchases.
Moynihan said during a guest appearance on CBS̵
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“Costs are rising dramatically,” Moynihan said. “Car rentals, leisure hotels, travel, not business travel yet – it’ll probably be late this fall – are strong, theme park reservations and things like that.”
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“These are all very good signs,” he added. “It goes from buying food in the store to more people who go to seating restaurants, even have a fast food restaurant. So you see this natural behavior.”
Bank of America forecasts significant growth this year – around 7% – with similar, albeit slightly slower, growth in 2022 – close to 5.5%.
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The country has already grown by about 4%, which Moynihan said made the economy “approximately” as big as it was before the pandemic.
“Our consumers have a lot of money in their current accounts,” Moynihan explained. “Companies have unused lines in their costs from our customers, which is a trillion so far this year, which is 20% more than in 2019 and obviously well over 2020.”
This growth has allowed business owners to change their priorities: Bank of America is conducting seasonal surveys, with autumn and spring surveys showing different attitudes and concerns.
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In the fall, business owners were concerned about the pandemic and how it would harm their business; by spring, however, business owners are more concerned about supply chain problems and hiring.
“We see that the origin actually exceeds what it was in 2019 for the month of May,” Moynihan said. “They’re a little up in April. They’re mostly flat in March.”
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“They have things to sell and produce, to sell to their customers,” he continued. “And it’s something that stands up, but it’s going to take a while.”