In a day of extraordinary action in the markets, perhaps the most noteworthy move yesterday was a 20% plunge in the share price of Bank of America. Despite rallying today, the bank, America’s largest by assets, has seen its shares lose around 30% of their value so far this month (and nearly 50% so far this year).
Bank of America now trades at a wince-inducing 32% of its book value. This puts it at the bottom of the price-to-book league table for domestic banks. But there are banks in Europe that trade at similar discounts; many of these remain part-nationalised (RBS, Dexia) or face severe sovereign-related stress (UniCredit, Alpha Bank). For Bank of America, a major mortgage lender, this is is not the best neighbourhood to be in.