The Carping of The Analysts: Did Merrill's Write-Downs Go Too Far?

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We're getting flooded by emails from analysts who are complaining that our earlier post taking them to task for getting this week's earnings so dramatically wrong isn't fair. They have to put out numbers, and are encouraged to put out numbers by both their employers, clients and the companies on which they report. In short, they're just following orders.
But what excuses the performance on today's Merrill conference call? More than one got on the call to challenge Merrill's write-downs--on the basis that Merrill had gone to far. From our perspective, it sounded like a lot of analysts were attempting to defend their own inadequate calls by raising questions about Merrill's numbers. At the very least, this is the impression we go from Citigroup's comments.

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