Monday, August 17, 2009

Score One for the Good Guys

Prime capitalist institution, BB&T, has asserted itself as a healthy, thriving bank amidst a sea of faltering behemoths. Now, as the economy starts to show signs of life, the bank is breaking out of the gate and gobbling up its weaker competitors who made destructive lending decisions back in the day.

On Friday, BB&T acquired most of Colonial Bank Corp.'s deposits and assets through the FDIC's seizure of the bank. (Don't get me started on that whole process.) This will make BB&T the 8th largest bank in the US by deposits. That's good for us shareholders. (Incidentally, size of a company is most certainly not always a determinant of success, but with a company like BB&T, added market share means more opportunities to apply its winning strategy.)

Important to all friends of Objectivism, however, is the heightened profile of the bank. Take, for example, this WSJ article about the purchase, which mentions capitalist ubermensch John Allison, as well as Objectivism. Here's a slice:

Before Friday, BB&T had about $152 billion in assets, 29,000 employees and operations in more than 11 states. It will purchase an additional $22 billion in assets in the Colonial deal. Mr. Allison, an adherent of Objectivism as practiced by author Ayn Rand, shaped the bank's behavior around his philosophical outlook.

"BB&T Values," a 30-page guide to the company's 10 core principles, written by Mr. Allison, asks employees to practice "reason," justice," "productivity" and "independent thinking."

Employees are encouraged to adopt these principles at the nearby BB&T University training center.

The bank also has long opposed government intervention in the private sector, refusing to lend to any landowner who acquired property via eminent domain. BB&T did accept federal bailout money last year, but was among the first to pay it back. The day the company got approval to return the capital, executives, including Mr. King, cheered.

Other than the fact that the authors neglect to mention that BB&T was forced to take the money, this is very good coverage for the bank, Allison, and the philosophy. It implies that the bank's guiding philosophy put it in a position to be able to succeed in the current business environment.

Very positive stuff.


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