With the deal to acquire Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., Kenneth D. Lewis is poised take Bank of America Corp. to a size that Citigroup Inc. at its biggest couldn't match.

The questions on many minds once the deal came to light was first whether B of A, or any company, should be accepting the kind of risks an investment banking deal entails at this point in the cycle, and second, whether it made any sense at all to offer as rich a premium as B of A did.

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