Leadership We Can Believe In

I make no pretense toward understanding the world of complex international finance, but by the time most of us at RBC wake up tomorrow morning, the financial system might be unrecognizable.

Lehman Brothers will apparently declare bankruptcy, as other banks have given up trying to save it; the immediate hit could affect thousands of Lehman’s 25,000 employees. Instead, Merrill Lynch, whose stock has fallen 70% in the last year and has had to take losses upwards of $52 billion, will be purchased by Bank of America.

Nevertheless, there is a requisite political nugget in all of this not-so-creative destruction. Unsurprisingly, John Thain, who took over Merrill last year, is “almost certain to leave the firm”–a nice euphemism for being fired.

Have no fear for Thain’s future, however. He’s got plans, according to the Financial Times:

He is a fervent supporter of John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, and some experts expect him to seek a political career.

Doesn’t it make you feel great thinking that Thain might be President McCain’s Treasury Secretary? I’m sure he’ll be staying in one of McCain’s houses if things get too tough for him.

UPDATE: My bad. I never should have suggested that Thain might have to be on the Cindy McCain dole. He was the most highly compensated CEO in America last year–$83.1 million dollars. It’s great how the market rewards quality.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.