Wall Street had its worst day down 504 points, Black Monday, since after the September 11 attacks as financial instability surged after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy
and insurer AIG struggled for survival while Merrill Lynch ML accepted a takeover bid from Bank of America. Bank of America has aggressively expanded to become the second largest bank in the US, by assets, after Citigroup. If the acquisition of Merrill, the world’s largest brokerage goes through, Bank of America is likely to take over as the new king of the banking world.
A sharp slide in oil prices to below $100 a barrel helped cap the stock market’s losses.
It doesn’t really matter anymore what’s happening in the real world. What matters is the psyche of the people driving stock prices – large institutional and short sellers who move the markets far and fast.
As concerns about the insurer AIG’s scramble for capital mounted, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. government has asked Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase to lead a lending of $70 billion to $75 billion for AIG.
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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said “New Yorkers have gotten through the ups and downs of Wall Street before, and we will get through this one, too. We know how to make tough decisions, we know how to come together, and we know how to emerge a stronger city as a result.”
By acquiring Merrill, Bank of America gained a major position in the investment management business and the ability to move into overseas markets.
Earlier this year Bank of America bought out Countrywide Financial, a giant lender often blamed for pushing many of the risky loans that started the housing crisis. It was a risky acquisition for Bank of America because it took on some bad loans, but at the same time it gained a much larger long term foothold in the lucrative mortgage business.
And that growth just continues now with Merrill Lynch.