By Paul Smalera, The Big Money
Forty-five billion dollars in TARP money could help Bank of America (BAC) fund an awful lot of mortgages, payroll loans, and credit facilities. But for BofA’s Merrill Lynch division, it seems what was at the top of the shopping list was erasing the views of the comany’s bearish former chief economist, David Rosenberg, from Zero Hedge, an insider financial blog whose writers believe the worst of the meltdown is yet to come.
Today Zero Hedge’s anonymous lead blogger, who goes by the name Tyler Durden, received a Digital Millennium Copyright Act Takedown Notice for six posts in which he cites Merrill Lynch reports authored by Rosenberg or his staff. The reports are indeed proprietary—but for journalists and bloggers, their widespread distribution has long been a helpful way to decode movements in the markets. “It’s their prerogative to impugn that there has been infringment,” Durden told me. “But there are intangibles. Rosenberg is leaving the company and is soon to be replaced by someone who has a slightly more upbeat feel.”
As a journalist, I’ve never had any trouble getting the contents of a report for a story I was working on. Indeed, press officials at banks have often seemed pleased or at least placated by the attribution that comes with citing their reports in a story. That said, James Ledbetter, The Big Money’s editor, was turned down last October when he asked for this Web site to be added to a weekly distribution list of the Rosenberg report. “Our goal is to keep it proprietary for our clients,” he was told by Merrill Lynch media relations. The reports can sometimes be tough for media to subscribe to (as opposed to making requests on a one-off basis).