It has taken Ken Lewis more than a month to do what he should have done the moment he learned of Merrill Lynch’s $21 billion Q4 operating loss: Fire John Thain. And now he only appears to be considering this because the revelation that he (Lewis) destroyed BAC’s shareholders by paying $50 billion for a firm actually worth $0 has spurred outraged calls for his own ouster.
Next, Lewis will no doubt also blame Thain for the acceleration of Merrill Lynch’s bonus payouts while Lewis was demanding that US taxpayers give Bank of American another massive bailout (75% of our latest BOFA bailout was paid to Merrill execs as bonuses).
The latter decision was indeed Thain’s, and he should certainly be sacked for it. But so should Lewis. Bank of America says it approved those bonus payouts. And Lewis is the one who is ultimately responsible for the catastrophe that has recently befallen BOFA shareholders.
Every minute that Ken Lewis keeps his job is an insult to US taxpayers, Bank of America shareholders, and Americans adult enough to accept responsibility for their decisions.