Someone had to be "sacrificed" for the "financial panic and bailout," said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. And "heave-ho," Bank of America’s Ken Lewis was the one to go. His "alleged offense"? According to the government, it was harming his shareholders by buying Merrill Lynch at an inflated price—even though the Treasury pressured him into it, to save the banking system. "His real, and ultimately fatal, mistake was to believe the feds."
Perhaps that’s part of it, said Daniel Gross in Slate, but the bigger issue is that the "self-made, homespun” Southern banker "wanted—no, needed—to make it big in New York." Under Lewis, BofA tried, and failed, to buy its way into the top tier of investment banking. He was about to give up when Merrill went on the auction block. So in the end, Lewis was just "another out-of-towner who had been pickpocketed near Times Square."
Ken Lewis has suffered enough, said David Weidner in Marketwatch, so, "as a parting gift," we'll spare him any more criticism over his inability to control his "appetite and spend $19 billion in Bank of America Corp. shareholders' money on a diseased investment bank and brokerage in a time of plague on Wall Street." Instead, we'll focus on urging the next CEO to forget about making more big deals, and focus on paying back the government and restoring trust.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- Are there too many good shows on television?
- 7 ideas from ancient thinkers that will improve your modern life
- The weird obsession that's ruining the GOP
- The big, gaping hole in the liberal policy arsenal
- Paul Ryan's anti-poverty plan is another sign of life in the GOP
- The NFL is terrified of the culture war
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
Subscribe to the Week