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September 15, 2018

10 Year Anniversary of Lehman Collapse: Documentary on the Crisis

I don't want to slip into the habit of posting videos all the time, but I will post the occasional documentary if I think it is worth watching.

The following is a good recap of the final days of Lehman Brothers. I was working in the asset management arm of a large insurance company in Canada when Lehman went bust on September 15th, 2008. Lehman certainly wasn't the first FI to fail - it was preceded by others like Northern Rock, Bear Stearns and Fannie Mae. But Lehman was the first to have all backstops removed, for a couple good reasons: 1) The Fed didn't want to create the illusion that it would rescue any FI that claimed it was having problems (a lot of the issues were hidden, so the Fed relied on the self-disclosures of the FIs), and 2) Lehman CEO Dick Fuld was a dick and I believe no other FI wanted to partner with the Fed to rescue Lehman.

Of course, the collapse of Lehman ultimately exposed how insanely deep into the financial system the problems burrowed.

People in my industry knew that if the financial system didn't receive unlimited Fed support the entire system would implode: savings would be wiped out, real companies wouldn't be able to finance payrolls and we'd go back to the days of bread lines. I had a 2 year old daughter and a big mortgage, and I was the most stressed I've ever been in my life. There really was nothing I could do but watch and hope that shit got sorted out. (Incidentally, some of you are familiar with a finance-related blog I started in November 2008, partly as a way to vent about what I was witnessing.)

The following documentary gets into the specifics of the Lehman collapse, from a layman's perspective. Although I wish it better communicated the acute stress people were under and the ramifications of financial collapse, it does a good job of describing the events that unfolded.

(Video available on Risktopia.com)

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