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The country is made up of two types of people right now, those who care about the Bank of America/ Merrill Lynch saga and those who truly don’t mind being robbed and pillaged in broad daylight. When the news came out that Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain requested a $10 million dollar bonus two weeks ago, New York State AG Andrew Cuomo wrote a letter to the board of directors calling that “shocking”.
You can only imagine what Cuomo must think of the fact that just before the closing of the B of A acquisition, Thain was able to bump the bonus payments up a month to beat the clock and give his cronies $15 billion before anyone could stop it. This occurred while Ken Lewis, the CEO of Merrill’s merger partner B of A, was in Washington begging for $20 billion in TARP funding. Read Heidi Moore‘s story in WSJ’s Deal Journal for more details about this outright theft of your tax dollars via Hank “never met a Wall Street man I didn’t like” Paulson and Co.
In related news, Clusterstock‘s one-two punch of Joel Weisenthal and Henry Blodget are all over the slow-motion trainwreck that is B of A/ Merrill. Blodget’s Ken Lewis Should be Fired is a must-read missive on this subject, coming a week after Ritholtz basically said the same thing, discussed here on TRB.
Blodget did however politely request that Lewis fire Thain as his last act, and his wish came true shortly after, thanks in part to the details of a $1.2 office renovation by Thain, recounted here by Weisenthal.
Speaking of Barry Ritholz, the righteous indignation that we count on from The Big Picture continues with this week’s Celebrating Incompetent Insider Stock Buys. Barry hits it on the head with his observation that when JP Morgan‘s Jamie Dimon and B of A’s Ken Lewis buy millions in stock, they are only using money from the inflated salaries they took all these years as they ran their companies into the ground with excessive risk-taking/ negligence. Paying yourself hundreds of millions while mismanaging a company and then using a fraction of a fraction of that money to buy shares that you’ve “turned into fertilizer” is not a “vote of confidence”, it’s a farce.