Has anyone’s reputation been as tarred by the financial meltdown as much as Lehman chief Dick Fuld’s? He’s earned the wrath of politicians and his own employees. Journalists regularly treat him as a candidate for the Worst Person of 2008. And now one former Lehman banker has penned an essay for Management Today about the destruction of Lehman that places the blame for Lehman’s bankruptcy square on Fuld’s shoulders.
“Fuld was a cult leader but no walker of the floors,” the Lehmanite writes. “He didn’t live in the real world.”
The banker faults Fuld with massive arrogance but not actual corruption or fraud.
“Dick Fuld was convinced that he’d got us through the Russian crisis and he was going to do it again,” he writes. “He was convinced he could trade his way out and spent the summer trying to fix it.”
Fuld’s confidence in his own abilities made him unable to deal with Lehman’s problems and unwilling to accept offers from those who might have been able to help.
“He consistently overplayed his hand, always after a better deal. This was typical of his style: sitting there, all powerful in an executive suite surrounded by those who licked his a**e all day long,” he writes.
The end loomed once Koreans were mentioned as possible rescuers.
By September, the final throes were absolutely terrible. As soon I saw on the wires in the final week that we were talking to the Koreans, I knew we had had it. When you’re talking to the Koreans you are really scraping the barrel. Fuld wouldn’t take their offer but he had no Plan B. Nothing in his back pocket.
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