Largest Banks in the World BankAmerica Corporation Part 3

About one of the largest banks in the world BankAmerica Corporation, history, trivia, and random facts, seamier sides.


BankAmerica Corporation

Seamy Side: During W.W. II, the Bank of America opened branches at Japanese-American detention centers in California. The purpose was to permit the internees to deposit with the bank any money they might have from the enforced sale of their homes and other possessions.

During the 1930s depression, the Bank of America held the largest private share of California farm mortgages, equipment loans, and advances on crops. When a farmer was hopelessly delinquent in his payments, the banks would foreclose and turn the land over to California Lands, Inc., a Transamerica subsidiary, which became one of the state's largest landowners. California Lands then sold portions of its holdings to agribusiness companies such as Foremost and Hunt Foods. This helped accelerate the change in California from small laborintensive farming to large-scale commercial agriculture.

Extra Dividends: Amadeo Giannini introduced H. J. Kaiser to Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt. Giannini was one of the few bankers to contribute to Roosevelt's election, and Kaiser sat on the board of directors of Bank of America. Although Kaiser's company had never built a ship before he met Roosevelt, Kaiser industries received contracts for building 35% of U.S. ship tonnage during W.W. II.

* During the 1970s, the Bank of America became the target of numerous successful burnings and bombings. Students burned the bank's Isla Vista branch near the University of California at Santa Barbara on Feb. 25, 1970. Eight months later, another branch bank was burned at the University of California's Irvine campus. After the burning of the Isla Vista branch, one student justified the action by saying, "Well, it was there . . . the biggest capitalist establishment thing around."

* The Bank of America's Beirut, Lebanon, branch was closed for nine months in 1976 because of the civil war in that country.

* During the early days of the Bank of Italy, state officials who made rulings favorable to the bank often later received jobs with the bank. State banking superintendent W. R. Williams, who had authorized the Bank of Italy's expansion to 24 branches, resigned his state position to take a job as cashier of the Bank of Italy.

* In the 1926 election for governor, Giannini brought his 300 branch managers to San Francisco to tell them to mobilize their employees and get out the vote of their 100,000 stockholders for Giannini's candidate, C. C. Young. Young was elected (he was called "Giannini's governor"), and he appointed former school superintendent Will C. Wood as bank superintendent. Wood permitted Giannini to consolidate his banks into a single system, and when Wood left state office he got a job as vice-president of the Bank of America.

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