A 'villain' of the financial crisis is trying to make a comeback, and Wall Street can hardly believe it

Next week at a conference in New York, Dick Fuld will make his first public comments since the financial crisis, and if you ask some Wall Streeters, the fact he is out and about is almost beyond belief.

“He’s a villain,” one hedge-fund professional said. “For real, what a joke.”

You’ll recall that Fuld was the CEO of Lehman Brothers when the now defunct financial firm went bankrupt in 2008.

Now his name is virtually synonymous with the hubris that preceded the financial crisis and the chaotic years that followed.

That said, people have made comebacks on Wall Street before. Michael Milken, the storied rainmaker of the junk-bond firm Drexel Burnham Lambert, ran afoul of the law 25 years ago and is now a philanthropist and thought leader on the Street.

So the comebacks can happen. Business Insider spoke to several industry professionals to gather their sentiment on Fuld and to see whether he might pass muster, and maybe even find work on Wall Street again.

Here’s what they said:

  • “He’s been on the street since the 1960s,” said one longtime industry analyst. “He can start some small hedge fund, managing friends’ and family money … In terms of [working for] a major firm, those days are over.”
  • Another Wall Street source, who worked with Fuld during the crisis, said Fuld felt like a victim of faulty information from his lieutenants: “He feels he was misled by a number of people.”
  • One longtime Wall Street analyst dismissed this: “It’s his job to be able to assess the information coming in. Any suggestion that Lehman’s failure is on his lieutenants still leaves him open to the criticism he doesn’t know how to manage.”
  • “John Thain is working again … “ chuckled one Federal Reserve employee, who asked to not be identified. Thain, of course, is the former CEO of Merrill Lynch who found work at CIT Group after Merrill’s shotgun merger with Bank of America during the financial crisis.
  • “I didn’t know that was possible after Lehman. It’s almost as dumb as our friend Hank Greenberg making a comeback,” another senior employee at a bulge-bracket bank said.
  • “I think he should just sit down,” another hedge funder said. “The market makes new high and the crooks start creeping up. Classic.”

So that sounds like a resounding no.

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