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)..
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