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This is another naked attempt to grab federal insurance - aka a bailout - for their liabilities. Some creative accounting will move the debt from one place to another.

I think that's right. The key is this line from the FT story I quote in my parallel comment:

During the transition period, the Fed will make loans to both entities and to the broker-dealer subsidiary of Merrill Lynch against collateral acceptable for posting either by a bank or a securities firm.
The Fed expands the kinds of collateral MS, GS and Merrill Lynch can post - but in the case of Merrill Lynch, they're becoming part of Bank of America, so that's okay...

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 22nd, 2008 at 07:17:57 AM EST
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