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Live from 1999

Yesterday, Ken Lewis, the CEO of Charlotte-based Bank of America, sat for a long interview with the stock touts — er, journalists — of CNBC. Although the interviewers lauded Lewis’ “huge insights,” his answers demonstrated a seemingly limited grasp of today’s realities. Rather, Lewis seeming articulated the freshest thinking of 1999 — a time when big financial conglomerates like Bank of America were taking off, the housing bubble was in its infancy and America’s banking system was not living on government-provided life support. It also was a time when a share of Bank of America stock cost sold for $71.62 rather than $7.24. (And it was a year when North Carolina’s unemployment rate was 3.3 percent, not 10.7 percent.)

If Lewis’ mindset is representative of other leaders in the banking and finance worlds, those institution and the larger economy will be in a bad way for a long time to come.

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