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Two Truths and a Lie: Financials Edition

By Motley Fool Staff - May 8, 2016 at 6:02AM

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Listen as David Hanson and Gaby Lapera discuss some weird, wacky, and astonishing facts about Countrywide, a cheeky Londoner, and Bitcoin.

In this clip, Gaby Lapera and David Hanson honor David's days of hosting Where the Money Is (now known as Industry Focus) by playing a round of Two Truths And a Lie.

Listen in to hear some hard-to-believe facts about Bank of America's (BAC 1.38%) Countrywide disaster, Lloyds Bank's username kerfuffle, and Bitcoin's recent EU news. And, like David, maybe you'll spot Gaby's lie immediately.

A transcript follows the video.

This podcast was recorded on April 25, 2016.

Gaby Lapera: As a throwback to your throwback days, I thought that we should play Two Truths and a Lie. For listeners who haven't been in college recently, or gone to summer camp, or anything like that, Two Truths and a Lie is exactly what it sounds like. I'm going to tell David Hanson two truths and a lie, and he has to pick out which one is which.

David Hanson: OK, go. Are these all banking related, or is this just like life?

Lapera: Oh, well I could tell you two truths and a lie about me.

Hanson: Let's just stay in the banking zone maybe.

Lapera: OK, they're financially related is what it is.

Hanson: OK.

Lapera: Do you remember Countrywide?

Hanson: Yes. Of course. I don't know if you know this, I worked at Bank of America before I worked here.

Lapera: No, I did not know that.

Hanson: I didn't buy Countrywide, I wasn't involved in that decision, so I don't lose all credibility, but I was there during the aftermath of digesting it.

Lapera: That must have been terrible. Bank of America really needed some Tums for Countrywide.

Hanson: Countrywide, yeah, I'm familiar.

Lapera: Just for our listeners, just in case you don't know or don't remember Countrywide; they were a sub-prime mortgage lender that was really active before the financial crisis. I actually was looking up some statistics on them, it turns out that they were responsible for 20% of all mortgages issued pre-financial crisis. Which is insane. It was something like 3.5% of America's GDP was accounted for by Countrywide, which is nuts. Anyway, back in the midst of the financial crisis Bank of America decided to purchase Countrywide. This is 2008, they bought them for $2.5 billion, and this is a decision they would come to regret in the next eight years, because they spent around $20 billion in fees -- in legal fees and bad mortgages and everything associated with Countrywide. This is my first fact.

Hanson: OK, got it, taking notes.

Lapera: OK, good, you're very organized. In 2008, one of the men who banked with Lloyd's got pretty mad at them, and so he changed his telephone banking password, which I did not know was a thing, to what in American English essentially translates too, "Lloyd's blows chunks", and the bank, some bank staffer got really mad, and changed it to "No, it doesn't" without telling him, which he realized when he attempted to call in. The bank refused to let him change it to either "Barclays is better" or "Censorship."

Hanson: OK.

Lapera: I don't know, maybe he's still trying to change his bank password to this day. I'm not really sure. Then my third fact is, that this morning, Bitcoin won the right to be a payment institution in Luxembourg and thus in the rest of the EU. This is a big deal for them because they'd been blocked out of the EU for quite a few years.

Hanson: Luxembourg was or Bitcoin?

Lapera: Bitcoin.

Hanson: OK, what's the price of the Bitcoin now? That was also a recent topic on Where The Money Is, I don't know if you know this but The Motley Fool actually owns a fraction of a Bitcoin.

Lapera: A fraction of a Bitcoin?

Hanson: That we purchased as part of a research project a couple years ago.

Lapera: How much Bitcoin worth? I'm Googling it right now. It is worth $463.73.

Hanson: That may be similar to a year and a half ago. I see nothing has changed since I left this podcast.

Lapera: It is similar to a year a half ago, it's slightly higher.

Hanson: Two truths and a lie, I'm going to say that the Countrywide fact is a lie.

Lapera: Why do you think it's a lie?

Hanson: $20 billion sounds low.

Lapera: It is low! Congratulations, this mind boggling to me. Do you want to know how much it actually was?

Hanson: I guess I do, yeah.

Lapera: $64 billion.

Hanson: Wow.

Lapera: That's a lot of money.

Hanson: So $2 billion, purchased for $2.5 billion?

Lapera: Around that, I think they said that when all was said and done they spent around $4 billion with all the shenanigans with actually having to purchase it.

Hanson: That's incredible, $64 billion.

Lapera: In total, Bank of America has spent around $195 billion settling problems from the financial crisis. On the bright side, they're done with that, so maybe they can move on.

Hanson: It's really crazy to sit back and think about it. Like I said, we're less than 10 years out of this cycle, or from the event of the financial crisis. I think we're going to look back in 40 years and be like, "Wow, 2016 was still really close to the financial crisis." In the scheme of history of these huge banking crises, we look back and eight years is still relatively close. It's going to take a long time for this to fully be in the rear view mirror, despite them having to still pay out $100-something billion. I think it will still be around for a couple more years.

Lapera: Yeah, and things changed a lot with the financial crisis, just in terms of regulations, so we don't really know 100% how it's going to shake out. Banks are still trying to come up to code, it takes longer than eight or nine years to come up to code, because they're so big and there's so many assets and they're complicated. Even Wells Fargo is complicated.

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