The WSJ has two important articles on Bank of America’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch today, concentrating on Ken Lewis and John Thain respectively. Both men were very quiet in mid-to-late December, before the acquisition closed, when they were CEOs of their respective banks and were obliged to keep their boards and shareholders apprised of the massive and unexpected losses at Merrill. Neither did so, and there’s a lingering suspicion that they both kept schtum on the implicit or explicit instructions of Treasury.
This is one situation where I’d really like to read one of the WSJ’s detailed tick-tocks on exactly what happened when — with emphasis on the details of when and how the Merrill losses came to light. I still can’t get my head around the idea that between December 8, when Thain told the Merrill board nothing about outsize losses, and December 17, when Lewis had an emergency meeting with Treasury, billions of dollars of Merrill loans suddenly went bad. It’s all still very foggy and in desperate need of sunlight.