GDP could rise to 4 percent in Q2 thanks to business-friendly policies, Bank of America CEO says

  • U.S. gross domestic product could climb more than 4 percent in the second quarter, Bank of America Merrill Lynch researchers predict.
  • Bank of America Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan outlines the economy's growth drivers in an interview with CNBC's Jim Cramer.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch researchers predict U.S. gross domestic product could surge above 4 percent in the second quarter, Bank of America Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan told CNBC on Monday.

"We feel good about the U.S. economy," Moynihan told "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer in an interview, saying that business-friendly policies of tax reform and deregulation led his company's researchers to make their prediction.

While the analysts anticipated that full-year GDP — the total value of goods and services a country produces — would be around 2.93 percent, they figured higher consumer spending could drive a 4 percent or near 4 percent result this quarter.

"There’s always an unknown, but right now, the people are employed, they’re making more money, tax reform has benefited them, tax reform has benefited companies, and you’re seeing that flow through the economy," Moynihan said.

Moynihan, whose tenure as chief of the country's second-largest lender has been punctuated by his motto of "responsible growth," emphasized how quickly consumer spending has multiplied in recent years.

"We get good insight into the consumer," he told Cramer. "So for the first six months of the year, our consumer spending, which is checks written, cash out of the ATMs, cash out of the tellers, bill payments, debit and credit cards, wires, ACH, Zelle payments, is up 9 percent over the first six months of last year."

In 2017, consumer spending was up 6 percent; the year before that, it was up only 3 percent, Moynihan said.

"So we've gone 3, 6, 9 [percent]. That's the acceleration of consumer spending," the CEO said. "And I would posture — leave aside some completely out-of-character risk out there — that if the U.S. consumer is spending at a 10 percent growth rate year over year, that is a good thing for America and the economy will be in good shape."

First-quarter U.S. GDP grew at a 2.2 percent annual rate, compared with 2.9 percent in the previous quarter.

Bank of America reported fiscal second-quarter earnings before Monday's opening bell. The country's second-largest lender saw profit climb 33 percent to $6.8 billion, trouncing Wall Street estimates of $5.92 billion.

The profit bump was buttressed by higher-than-expected cost-cutting, with expenses down 5 percent year-over-year, totaling $13.3 billion. The bank's earnings per share also topped analysts' expectations.

Bank of America's stock traded higher on Monday, rising more than 4 percent and closing at $29.78 a share. Most analysts issued positive notes after the report, with Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan giving the stock "overweight" ratings.

Watch Brian Moynihan's full interview here:

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