Bank of America boss Ken Lewis is taking a lot of heat over the huge damage Merrill Lynch inflicted on its balance sheet today. But John Thain is nowhere to be found. That’s kind of odd, since the losses at Merrill took place under his watch. Shouldn’t Thain be explaining the mystery of how Merrill’s loss forecasts were so far off that the company went completely toxic in December?
Perhaps Thain knows that there is no way he can win when it comes to this line of questioning. If he knew how bad the problems at Merrill were, he deceived regulators and Bank of America shareholders. Since Bank of America has now acquired Merrill, Thain is now working for them. If he didn’t know, he just seems incompetent.
Another possible explanation for the absence of Thain: Lewis has told him to shut up and stay out of the picture.
One thing that is certain: if there was any chance that Thain might someday run Bank of America, today’s news effectively reduced that to zero.