A number of former Lehman employees are raising a glass tonight to commemorate the day when they woke up to find their firm had declared bankruptcy. Some are now employed at Barclays, which picked up the remains of Lehman after the bankruptcy, while others have moved on to other firms our out of finance altogether. Many are gathered–right now!–at Bryant Park Grill, behind the New York Public Library.
We gave one Lehman employee a hard time today for her assertion that she was robbed by the government’s refusal to bail out the firm. But we hope we didn’t give the misleading impression that we have contempt for everyone or even most of the people at Lehman.
In truth, most of the men and women at Lehman were smart, hard working people who did their best and never imagined their firm was as riddled with death-rattling risk as it was. They believed their executives when they were told the firm was healthy. They thought the men on the 31st floor would be able to save the investment bank. Or, at the very least, execute a sale to a white knight.
We had friends at Lehman. Watching them go through the collapse was painful. Their lives were thrown in to chaos. People with families, years long careers, mortgages and smarts to make in almost any field suddenly found themselves unemployed or nearly so. As we said a year ago, it was a dark time.
We’ll raise a glass to you tonight, lads and lasses. You have been through something that makes all the tales of the old timers pale in comparison. If we see you out tonight, tap us on the shoulder, tell us your story, and we’ll buy you a drink. It may not be a bailout and it won’t bring back Lehman. But it’s the least we can do.