Of all the Lehman: One Year Later stories that are coming out, today’s contribution from Bloomberg is one of the better (and more depressing) ones to read. It focuses on some of the surprise victims of the Lehman collapse, all around the world:
Yu Lia Chun, a retired hospital orderly in Hong Kong, never heard of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. before she got a call last September from her banker.
“He said, ‘Did you hear the news? Something has happened to Lehman,'” Yu, 66, recalled in an interview in June. “I didn’t get it.”
Yu, who has a sixth-grade education, said she thought her money was in a savings account. She didn’t know she had lent it to a bankrupt American securities firm. Eventually, she found out that her HK$1.2 million ($155,000) nest egg was gone. Her children lost another HK$3.8 million because Yu had persuaded them to make similar investments.
When a banker has a 66-year old pensioner invest her entire life savings by lending it to a single, teetering financial company, then that’s obviously scandalously bad behaviour. By now, though, stories of such horrible judgment are pretty common (there wouldn’t have been a crisis and collapse if they weren’t common).
Other stories are similarly shocking:
The chief operating officer of a private-equity firm in London jumped in front of a commuter train because he blamed himself for leaving the company’s money in a Lehman account, according to a coroner’s report. The Israeli managers of a hotel construction project on the island of West Caicos, northeast of Cuba, were taken hostage by Chinese workers when an anticipated Lehman loan didn’t materialise and wages weren’t paid. In Hong Kong, Yu and thousands of others who had invested in Lehman products camped out in the rain, thumping drums and chanting, “Give us our money back.”