Crash of the Titans

Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch, and the Near-Collapse of Bank of America

Salon’s Andrew Leonard Reviews “Crash of the Titans”

Andrew Leonard of yesterday released his review of "Crash of the Titans" highlighting how the book is more about what drove executives at Merrill Lynch to continue " … merrily speculating in mortgage-backed securities constructed out of the dregs of the dregs" than it is about the government's role in the financial meltdown. Leonard writes:

" … what emerges from [author Greg ]Farrell's account is a grittier story zeroing in on the motivations driving the individual players — a classic tale of self-interest, in which chances for corporate advancement and the desire for a big bonus trump everything else. There's nothing of great surprise to be learned here — it surely isn't newsworthy that bankers are motivated by money. But there's great value to be gained in the detail that Farrell reveals, particularly as it applies to one of the storylines that most outraged the general public in 2009 — the single-minded focus that Merrill Lynch executives, from [then CEO John] Thain on down, devoted to getting their bonuses, even as the economy was crashing and their own firm was losing billions of dollars a quarter."

To read the full review, click here.

Separately, Farrell talks about the book on's "Real Story with Gregg Greenberg," in this podcast. Greenberg (who covered the Martha Stewart trial with Farrell, when Farrell was at USA Today), says: "I haven't really gotten the definitive story on Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, until now." (The interview begins at the 26:15 mark.)

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Author, Greg Farrell

GREG FARRELL is a correspondent for the Financial Times. In January 2009, he broke the news that Merrill Lynch had paid out its 2008 bonuses a month ahead of schedule, in December, even though Merrill was in the process of losing $28 billion for the year, and Bank of America needed an extra $20 billion in taxpayer funds to complete its acquisition of the firm. That story sparked an investigation by New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo. Greg is a past winner of the American Business Press’s Jesse Neal Award for investigative reporting and a recipient of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship for business journalism. He earned a BA from Harvard University and an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University.