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Michael

Alamo, CA, United States | Member Since 2005

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  • Crash of the Titans: Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch and the Near-Collapse of Bank of America

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Greg Farrell
    • Narrated By Dan Woren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (98)
    Performance
    (50)
    Story
    (51)

    With one notable exception, the firms that make up what we know as Wall Street have always been part of an inbred, insular culture that most people only vaguely understand. The exception was Merrill Lynch, a firm that revolutionized the stock market by bringing Wall Street to Main Street. Merrill Lynch was an icon. Its sudden decline, collapse, and sale to Bank of America was a shock. How did it happen? Why did it happen?

    Charles says: "A Dizzying Story About the Fall of an Icon"
    "The Melodrama Behind the Scenes"
    Overall

    Interesting and worthwhile story of the top executives at Merrill and BofA during the tumult of 2007 and 2008. It reads like a melodrama, with detailed descriptions of rivalries, bad feelings, insensitive and arrogant behavior, and corporate cliques—in short, a gossip’s delight as well as useful background on how critical high-level corporate decisions were made during that period.

    One of the more interesting episodes discussed was Ken Lewis’s attempt in December 2008 to seek additional US government assistance to BofA for the Merrill transaction, using the threat of invoking the “material adverse change” clause in BofA’s merger agreement with Merrill. He ran into a Treasury Secretary and Fed Chairman who were ready and fully capable of calling his bluff. Lewis was sternly rebuffed with the admonition that such a step would call BofA’s judgment into such serious question that the banking authorities would likely remove its top management and Board.

    With its focus on personalities, this book makes only cursory references to the underlying causes of the 2007-2008 financial crisis. As I have mentioned in other reviews, if you are looking for books that explain the underlying causes in detail I recommend David Faber's book (And Then the Roof Caved In) followed by Michael Lewis's book (The Big Short)..

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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