CNBC Appearance: Me on Merrill & Thain

I am appearing on CNBC at 12:20 to discuss last week’s Merrill Lynch/John Thain Write Down Capital Raise.

Click for video . . .



Here is Thain’s response on CNBC; He is a bit more circumspect, and acknowledges the unknowns.
(its only “kinda weasely):

Part I

Part II

UPDATE: August 4th, 2008 12:25pm

Not bad, but a little off my game. Forgot to mention risking investors confidence may make it harder to raise the next round when needed.

Must still be a bit woozy from all the travel and Scotch this weekend . . .


Airtime: Mon. Aug. 4 2008 | :22:0 08 ET

Merrill CEO John Thain has been under fire lately for his handling of the bank’s financial situation, with Barry Ritholtz, Fusion IQ CEO

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Mark W commented on Aug 4

    Make sure you drill them on the “Gee, not sure how we missed that writedown when we posted our numbers two weeks ago”. Wheres the SEC on that deal?

  2. Tony commented on Aug 4

    Great answer, Barry: Thain should have just said “I don’t know.”

    Interviewer: “Well. How can he just say that?”


    (BTW, you looked like you shaved today!! Good show.)

  3. Ed commented on Aug 4

    Never admit to poor/under performance due to booze. Sounds too English…

  4. dblwyo commented on Aug 4

    Either Thain and the exec suite knew they had more problems or not. In the first case they were blindsided and we have no way of knowing if that’s the last, what caused/causes it and their position. Thereby making them impossible to value. In the latter case they were deliberately mis-leading with all that implies. Or the very worst both are true – that is they don’t know what they’re doing and they’re being deceptive. Is there another alternative ? What does it say about the state of the industry ? Of the credit crunch ? And of the general outlook ?

  5. Stuart commented on Aug 4

    A couple comments.

    1st: as mentioned above, her (the interviewer’s) comment questioning the practicality of John Thain saying “I don’t know” exemplifies much of the core problem of managing perceptions. You’re not allowed to say “I don’t know” is the implication. So what do you do then if you know the news is not good. You lie.

    2nd: you let John Thain off the hook too easily. I could see this being a waffling issue of him not understanding the magnitude of the problem when he 1st took over, or even after one or two gaffs. BUT there have been sooooo many now, that there is no other interpretation than he is deliberately BS’ing to obfuscate and buy for time. He, and so many others that are guilty of this should be taken out to the woodshed.

  6. Mike in NOLa commented on Aug 4

    You didn’t do badly given the interviewers. The will contest any bearish statements or any questioning of Wall Street firms or their monarchs. Roubini was lucky he walked out of there alive this morning.

  7. Mike in NOLa commented on Aug 4

    Everyone get out the voice stress analyzers. Thain on CNBC next.

    But they probably don’t work on those who feel no guilt about lying.

  8. Stuart commented on Aug 4

    Well well, Thain says they’re well capitalized, once again, on CNBC. It’s become a sureal kind of joke.

  9. bdg123 commented on Aug 4

    I watched Thain today on TV and it was surely a marketing ploy be it personal or for Merrill is debatable.

    If I didn’t know better, I would say he graduated from Harvard Law School. He was assuredly coached given Merrill is going to be sued time and again – likely more so than they already are.

    What I found most hilarious with that interview was the fact that he refused to give guidance. Wall Street has helped create this environment of phony accounting such that CEOs could manage earnings to meet Wall Street’s expectations and here is someone born in the belly of the beast unable to meet its own expectations -a true irony.

  10. Tom commented on Aug 5

    Barry——- A Rusty Nail will cure you.

  11. jc commented on Aug 5

    Now Thain is saying they are adequately capitalized “as of today”, just like Paulson’s comment a few friday’s ago “Today’ we support Freddie & Fannie in the current form”, then Monday he announced the bailout proposal.

    Even worse is Thain’s claim that he did it for employee morale, nothing like locking paper losses into real losses at pennies on the dollar while massively diluting current shareholders (incl employees)to boost morale!

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