"Of course, we do not know how this crisis will ultimately end, including how long it will last, how much economic damage it will do, or how fast or slow the recovery will be. We have always been serious about stress testing and run an enormous number of tests per week so that we are prepared for most crises. But as is often the case, this “actual new crisis” – while it shares attributes with what is being stress tested – is dramatically different from the expected. We stopped buying back our stock: We have always held the position that the highest and best use of our equity is to reinvest it in our own business and, of course, to be able to withstand tough times. Halting buybacks was simply a very prudent action – we don't know exactly what the future will hold – but at a minimum, we assume that it will include a bad recession combined with some kind of financial stress similar to the global financial crisis of 2008. Our bank cannot be immune to the effects of this kind of stress. We will share in detail our latest thinking on the impact this crisis will have on our financials in our first quarter earnings release in mid-April; Additionally, we have run an extremely adverse scenario that assumes an even deeper contraction of gross domestic product, down as much as 35% in the second quarter and lasting through the end of the year, and with U.S. unemployment continuing to increase, peaking at 14% in the fourth quarter. We applaud and support the recent actions the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve have taken to try to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 turmoil. The Fed's overwhelming actions have already dramatically reduced the financial stress in the system, and there is still more they could do if they need to. We have the resources to emerge from this crisis as a stronger country. America is still the most prosperous nation the world has ever seen. We are blessed with the natural gifts of land; all the food, water and energy we need; the Atlantic and Pacific oceans as natural borders; and wonderful neighbors in Canada and Mexico. And we are blessed with the extraordinary gifts from our Founding Fathers, which are still unequaled: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise, and the promise of equality and opportunity. These gifts have led to the most dynamic economy the world has ever seen – one that nurtures vibrant businesses large and small, exceptional universities, and a welcoming environment for innovation, science and technology. America was an idea borne on principles, not based upon historical relationships and tribal politics. It has and will continue to be a beacon of hope for the world and a magnet for the world's best and brightest."
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