Bank of America announced about 20 layoffs in its so-called "band 1" layer of management at the end of the year, ousting a number of long-time loyalists of CEO Ken Lewis and signaling the lengths to which BofA must go to remake itself as it integrates Countrywide and Merrill Lynch. Reportedly, those asked to leave include deputy general counsel David Onorato; Helga Houston, a compliance/risk-management exec for global consumer and small-business banking; Lance Drummond, a senior e-commerce executive; West Coast consumer banking head Brad Dinsmore; Mark Ricci, a sales, service and integration executive; and Chris Swecker, who came from the FBI to run corporate security.

One bogeyman in today's financial crisis is mark-to-market rules. Opponents complain they worsened banks' plight by forcing them to write down the value of long-term assets. Some legislators tried to prohibit mark-to-market in the bailout legislation. The feisty response from the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB): announce a possible expansion of the practice. Under one scenario, mark-to-market might expand to state a uniform view of loans, bonds, derivatives and stocks. Joining FASB is the international board, which earlier said mark-to-market accounting seems the only method "appropriate for all types of financial instruments."

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