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A bad quarter for Merrill Lynch

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Scott Jagow: The big Wall Street banks have all been hurt by their unwise investments in mortgage-backed securities. But man, Merrill Lynch took it on the chin. This morning, the bank turned in its first quarterly loss in six years. We're talking billions of dollars in write-downs. More now from Jeremy Hobson.


Jeremy Hobson: Earlier this month, Merrill Lynch said it expected to write down $5 billion for the quarter. But the subprime mortgage bug-bite was bigger than first thought, and the write-downs swelled to almost $8 billion.

Camilla Petersen: They grew their business by taking some very aggressive risk bets that clearly haven't paid off in the long run.

That's Atlantic Equities analyst Camilla Petersen. She says Merrill CEO Stan O'Neal's gamble on mortgage-related securities is partly to blame for the loss.

But she says Merrill Lynch is the last big bank to report earnings in the U.S. And she says investors had some idea what was coming.

Petersen: Most of these rumors were already out in the market yesterday that there could be another $2-3 billion in write-downs and the stock was actually up slightly.

Merrill Lynch says its liquidity remains strong as it navigates through choppy waters.

I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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