The U.S. Federal Reserve yesterday threw a $180 billion lifeline into a global fight against the financial crisis as Wall Street legend Morgan Stanley became the latest name under attack and Britain's top mortgage lender was forced into a merger.

Central banks around the world launched a joint operation to stem panic in credit markets amid mounting political calls for "decisive" action to end the crisis.

After this past weekend's collapse of Lehman Brothers and the forced sale of Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley is now looking for help after seeing its stock drop another 24 percent Wednesday. One of the last two independent U.S. investment banks, Morgan Stanley is reportedly negotiating a merger.

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