Merrill Lynch really hurting around mile 22

If you want Merrill Lynch to underwrite your city’s marathon, now’s the time to make your pitch. In a newspaper ad (and online pronouncement) headed “Why Merrill Lynch is Still Bullish on Merrill Lynch,” the company assures readers that its “financial position and liquidity remain strong”—which is more than you might be able to say if you’d just suffered a writedown of billions of dollars on mortgage-related investments. After referring to various disasters the company has survived in its 93-year history, the text declares that “investing is not a sprint, but a marathon.” (By the way, has Sprint ever sponsored a marathon?) Surely a Merrill Lynch Marathon would make that bit of boilerplate more memorable. It might also distract readers from the fact that the ad uses the word “challenging” no fewer than three times. Anyone who’s sat through a corporate meeting knows that this word is generally a prelude to further dismal news.

—Posted by Mark Dolliver