STEVE INSKEEP, host:
All the same, yesterday the trading firm Bear Stearns announced the first quarterly loss in its 84-year history. Another big bank, Merrill Lynch, is hoping a new CEO will calm its own turmoil, part of the credit correct crisis. The bank recently announced more than $8 billion in losses. So it makes sense that the new head is known as Wall Street's Mr. Fix-it.
NPR's Adam Davidson takes a look.
ADAM DAVIDSON: Most people don't know who the CEO of Merrill Lynch is. It has little impact on their lives. But these days it might actually really matter. That's because Merrill, as it's known on Wall Street, is at the center of the subprime mortgage financial crisis.
A couple weeks ago, the company's previous CEO stepped down after presiding over billions of dollars in losses. Merrill had far too much money in mortgages given to people who just can't afford them. When an investment bank as large and well-respected as Merrill faces such trauma, it gets lots of people worried that many other financial institutions might be in serious trouble. It's part of what had Fed fears of a recession.
John Thain, the newly named CEO of Merrill Lynch, is exactly the man people think of for the job of turning around once venerable, now troubled Wall Street institutions. He took over the New York Stock Exchange after its previous CEO, Dick Grasso, left in disgrace. Thain was no caretaker. He transformed the exchange from being much like a 19th century private club for stock traders into a nimble global corporation. Now all eyes are on him, wondering if he can pull that feat off again and save Merrill Lynch.
Adam Davidson, NPR News, New York.
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