Bank of America Corp Chief Executive Brian Moynihan said the financial industry needs to embrace a looming regulatory overhaul instead of fighting it, but added that breaking up the biggest U.S. banks would be a mistake.

Moynihan took a more conciliatory stance toward new regulation than his predecessor, Kenneth Lewis, who retired on December 31.

We as an industry cannot avoid the simple fact that we caused a lot of the damage, and we have to help make sure it doesn't happen again, he told the North Carolina Economic Forecast Forum, hosted by the North Carolina Bankers' Association and Chamber of Commerce.

Moynihan said U.S. banks bore their share of the responsibility for the financial crisis and the current struggles of U.S. consumers.

Many consumers borrowed more than they should have, and we helped them do it, he said.

Moynihan's comments provided early signals the bank will resist efforts to break up commercial and investment banks that came together during the industry's extended deregulation in the 1990's. Politicians and critics like U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd are arguing banks that are judged too big to fail should be broken up.

Moynihan disagreed.

It represents what our customers need from us as an industry, Moynihan said.

Bank of America combined with investment bank and brokerage Merrill Lynch & Co a year ago, but the acquisition forced the largest U.S. bank to take an additional round of bank bailout funds after large losses from Merrill's structured debt holdings. The bank repaid the $45 billion in U.S. government aid in December 2009.

Separately, Moynihan said that while he expected job growth in the United States early this year, he continued to be concerned about the fragile state of the economy.

The economic hole we're climbing out of is very deep, he said.

(Additional reporting by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz and Steve Orlofsky)