Merrill CEO: Stimulus Will 'Cushion' Downturn

John Thain, chief executive at Merrill Lynch , says there's no question the U.S. economy is slowing. But he remains optimistic about America -- and about Merrill's businesses.

“There's no doubt...housing prices are still going to fall in the U.S., but the Fed actions -- and of course, the Administration’s actions on providing some stimulus -- I think will cushion the slowdown,” he told CNBC's Maria Bartiromo.

Thain says the financial sector has not bottomed yet, and he anticipates more writedowns in the sector.

“I think we’re in good shape. But I think the industry as a whole has still got more losses to go. I think the cumulative losses right now are about $100 billion -- and that’s not the bottom.”

But he notes that 60 percent of Merrill's institutional business is outside the U.S. -- and "our business in Russia is doing great. China, India, Brazil are doing great."