For BofA and Merrill, love was blind

That's what the New York Times says in its exhaustive profile of the messy merger. Reporters interviewed more than thirty current and former execs, none of whom would be identified. About the internal debate over the notorious Merrill bonuses:

The episode revealed the rampant hubris and sense of entitlement embedded on Wall Street, foreshadowing the myriad problems that would eventually threaten the merger of the two beleaguered financial giants.

And the depiction of the two principal players, Thain and Lewis:

 

On one side is Mr. Thain, who was viewed as someone who promised far more to Merrill than he delivered. Although he has repeatedly said that he helped heal the firm’s financial wounds and its battered morale, he wound up insulating himself from most top Merrill executives and failed to protect the firm from a stunning $15.3 billion loss in the fourth quarter of last year, according to several current and former senior Merrill insiders.

On the other side of the deal is Kenneth D. Lewis, a pragmatic, no-nonsense banker who, as Bank of America’s chief executive, monitored the Merrill takeover from a remote base in his Charlotte, N.C., headquarters and who, according to people at his bank, was perhaps blinded to Merrill’s risks by his own ambitions and penchant for empire building.