Stan's 'No' To Bush - Still Has Big Merrill Job To Do

Not that he is thought to have been asked, but following George Bush's re-election Tuesday, Stan O'Neal would most likely politely decline any approach for him to join the government as US Treasury Secretary.

O'Neal dismissed the very notion that his future is off in Washington by saying last week that 'I would not want to do something like that (become Treasury Secretary) to the American public'.

But the fact remains, that as challenging as a senior government post would be, O'Neal still needs to earn his spurs at Merrill Lynch. Ever the accountant that he is, O'Neal has spent the first almost 2 years of his term as CEO doing what he understands best - controlling and cutting costs.

And O'Neal has rightly won some plaudits for doing what was needed at the time. But, in reality, he has accomplished the easy bit. Now he needs to let go of the reins and create an environment of revenue generation and earnings growth. Any fool can cut costs, but you need to be a bit clever to build a business.

So, don't expect Stan to give Merrill the push for Bush (or anyone else). He will be fully aware that, in the final analysis, he will be judged by his ability to grow his firm's businesses. And, in true Stan style, he will roll up his sleeves and give it his best shot.

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