Discussions over these funds began in mid-December when Bank of America approached the Treasury Department. The bank, already the recipient of $25 billion in committed federal rescue funds, said that it was unlikely to complete its Jan. 1 purchase of the ailing Wall Street securities firm because of Merrill's larger-than-expected losses in the fourth quarter, according to a person familiar with the talks.
Treasury, concerned the deal's failure could affect the stability of U.S. financial markets, agreed to work with the Charlotte, N.C., lender on the "formulation of a plan" that includes new capital from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, according to the person familiar with the talks. The amount and terms are still being finalized, this person said. Details are expected to be announced with Bank of America's fourth-quarter earnings, due out Tuesday.
Any possible arrangement might protect Bank of America from losses on Merrill's bad assets. There would be a cap on the amount of losses the bank would have to absorb, with the federal government being on the hook for the remainder, said one person familiar with the matter.
They could have wiped out Merrill shareholders and executives, but no, they'd rather give billions to Merrill and leave future generations of taxpayers with the tab.