The choice of NYSE's John Thain as Merrill Lynch's new CEO signals a focus on a new kind of manager for the financial giant, the Wall Street Journal observes: a strong risk manager. A low-key, detail-oriented veteran, Thain resembles the top execs of the firms least damaged by the subprime mortgage collapse, the paper notes: "They aren't risk-averse but they have a deep understanding of risk and have the battle scars to prove it."
In addition to his valued experience at Goldman Sach's mortgage desk, Thain's successful negotiation of the NYSE/EuroNext merger is said to have impressed Merrill's board and perhaps outweighed criticisms that he isn't enough of a "people person" to lead the company's horde of brokers. Thain is confident he can reverse Merrill's mortgage misfortunes. They've got "one problem area, and I know a lot about that area," he told the Journal.