the firm as a whole does" an approach very much in the mold of Goldman Sachs. Of course, even if people are paid well, nothing can make up for bad decisionmaking. The First Franklin deal is a prime example. In September 2006, with alarms already sounding about the mounting problems, Merrill bought the big subprime lender. Even then, the move was viewed as exhibiting all the strategic wisdom of a foray into Havana real estate in 1959. Jeff Kronthal, a leading Merrill fixed income executive, advised against the purchase, was fired for his advice, and was then rehired (by Thain) as a consultant.
Traders were paid on the basis of their own profit and loss, regardless of how the company was doing. That blinders on approach helped create the organizational compartmentalization that Thain is seeking to demolish. "In the past, people had been compensated for their own business, their own P Thain says.
Variations on the same phenomenon huge, greedy bets on dicey ventures and risky financial instruments had burned the Street, including Merrill, years earlier. "We'd all been through the mortgage area before," points out Win Smith, former chairman of Merrill Lynch International and the son of a co founder of the firm. "We'd seen losses. We'd been through the liquidity problems of the Asian flu and the Mexican flu," he says, referring to the emerging market debt losses that roiled the markets in late 1998, resulting in the failure of Long Term Capital Management and big losses for Merrill and other banks. board and helped design the bailout coordinated by the Federal Reserve, sees few parallels .
for the buildup in subprime securities. Added to that was a compensation system that paid executives on the basis of Puma Velvet Creepers how well they grew revenues, without sufficient regard to the risk being taken on. "It's like me buying all those buildings out there just to get a little fee. It wouldn't make sense," the Merrill official says. Puma Velvet Creepers Red