Old habits die hard.
Against a storm of fury over excessive executive compensation, John Thain, head of Merrill Lynch, thinks he's worth a $10 million bonus.
True, he's been in office just a year, but in that year Merrill has lost 73 percent of its stocks' value, seen $11.67 billion in net income evaporate, is poised to lay off thousands of its employees, and is being bought out by Bank of America.
Compare him to the executives of Goldman Sachs, which weathered a rough storm while managing to stay independent. They are volunteering to forego bonuses.
Thain's pitch to his board is that he's managed so well he's prevented things from becoming even worse. Actually, he may have an argument there, but it is a rather limp one considering all the hell that Merrill has been through.
You have to wonder what gets into these guys' minds. It's like General Motors sticking to gas guzzlers and then sending its CEO to beg for money from Congress in a corporate jet when he can't even make a coherent case for it.
Well, Rick Wagoner is supposed to have his bailout by the end of today. Maybe Thain will, too.