On the hot seat: Merrill Lynch's John Thain


When John Thain took the top job at Merrill Lynch, we noted that he seemed to be the right man at the right time. With his Goldman Sachs pedigree and NYSE success, there were plenty of people who agreed. But things have changed. The New York Times notes that the firm has lost money four quarters in a row--to the tune of nearly $20 billion. At various points along the way, Thain suggested that the worst was over. But the firm's capital position continued to deteriorate as the issues regarding its exposure to mortgage-backed products proved thornier than anyone expected. No one thinks he's blind to the issues. He's raised more than $15 billion since coming aboard. He may have to raise more. While the bloom is off the rose, he's got a lot of assets than can be sold. If he can get past this, he will have proved himself.

For more:
- here's a New York Times profile

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