Merrill Continued To Trade Mortgage Assets AFTER MERGER AND BAILOUT

January 25, 2009

This gives me that feeling of wanted to explode into a rage, puke, and sleep all at the same time. From the NY Times:

“…after Merrill appeared to be safely in Bank of America’s arms, Merrill’s traders began buying risky mortgage assets, thinking that the market had bottomed out, according to two people familiar with the firm’s trading. Merrill also began to run up losses on equity derivatives and other instruments, they said.”

I can’t sum up the idiocy here any better than Zachary Roth at TPM:

“So Merrill traders resumed buying mortgage assets after the crisis in the housing market was already abundantly clear. After the government had taken over the mortgage lenders Fannie and Freddie. After Lehman Brothers had announced it was filing for bankruptcy. After the US government had effectively taken over AIG. Above all, after Merrill itself had been bought by Bank of America, with help from $25 billion of government money.

And all those developments triggered by hundreds of billions of dollars in losses thanks to investments in bad mortgage assets.

And here’s the larger point: Merrill’s massive fourth quarter losses, which prompted B of A to seek a second government bailout, weren’t caused only by investments made before the collapse of the mortgage market, and the extent of the financial crisis, became apparent. Rather, they were in part the result of continuing to buy bad mortgage assets into the fall.”

John Thain. American hero.

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