This morning's San Francisco Chronicle featured a story in remembrance of the Jonestown massacres thirty years ago. In the front page article, Congresswoman Jackie Spier recalls her trip to Jonestown with Congressman Leo Ryan . For the past several weeks, the daily financial news has been grimmer and grimmer. Business leaders are faced with rising costs, uncertain revenue projections, and a shortfall of cash and credit.
According to Morgenson, E. Stanley O'Neal, Merrill's CEO, is described as an autocratic leader. Two of his lieutenants discouraged open communication between the risk management arm and the sales arm. One of the lieutenants was Osman Semerci. Semerci she wrote, "often played the role of tough guy . . . silencing critics who warned about the risks the firm was taking." He also "would chastise traders and other moneymakers who told risk management officials exactly what they were doing." We can only infer that important lines of communication and necessary discussions to determine true risk were cut off. Most likely, not talking about the obvious, unexpected, or anything out of the ordinary became the norm. Some employees described Semerci as intimidating. Like the frog who gets comfortable as the temperature of the lukewarm water rises, Merrill employees no doubt became used to the culture of fear and didn't speak up.