A year on from one of the most traumatic events of all time in the financial market and we are all driven to a period of sober reflection. Well, almost all.
The media vultures are still pecking at the corpse of Lehman Brothers, 12 months after the fourth largest American investment bank collapsed.
In contrast to the heroic captain of James Cameron’s Titanic who stayed at the helm as the boat went down, Dick Fuld, Lehman’s erstwhile chief executive, was to watch his reputation sink with his ship. Also unlike Captain Smith, Fuld’s demise was not played out to “Nearer my God to thee” but to the soft thud of a former employee’s right hand as he was floored while exercising in the firm’s en-suite gym.
In many ways he has become the Midas figure of the crisis. After taking the reigns of the troubled investment bank in 1994 his rise to prominence was somewhat staggering. Within a decade Lehmans was challenging the mighty Goldman Sachs for dominance on Wall Street—these were golden days indeed!
But his astronomical rise to power, coupled with a single-mindedness—which earned him the nickname “the Gorilla”—is now swamped with an overwhelming sense of hubris. Reportedly rebuffing a takeover offer from the Korea Development Bank because it “undervalued the company” in August last year, his company declared bankruptcy a month later.
Of course, had the man disappeared into silent retirement he could have drifted into obscurity, remembered only as the pantomime villain at the head of an evil financial empire. Like with Midas, however, the fates had other plans.
When an intrepid Reuter’s journalist finally caught up with the man at his tree-covered hideout in Idaho he was given his chance to try and make amends.
“I’ve been pummelled, I’ve been dumped on, and it’s all going to happen again. I can handle it,” said the stoic banker. “They’re looking for someone to dump on right now, and that’s me.”
So no apology then. Well possibly we have him wrong. It appears Fuld is also something of a theologian. Quoting a Jewish folktale of King Solomon he said: “You know what they say? ‘This too shall pass.’”
Perhaps, however, he should have read on:
“At that moment Solomon realized that all his wisdom and fabulous…