In Bank of America Corp.'s third-quarter earnings call, Chief Executive Brian Moynihan invoked a series of metaphors in addressing the alarm over the company's mortgage repurchase liabilities.

Pugnaciously, he vowed not to stand for claimants who bought Chevy Vegas insisting that they wanted 12-cylinder Mercedes-Benzes. Underwriting is conservative now, and the damage is "sealed in" from years of risky lending in the middle of the decade. "The issue is how long the flight will take," Moynihan said, the pig is passing through the snake.

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