Lehman

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A Lehman employee yesterday.

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No such thing. Are you looking for the Lehmans, the Amish online hardware store?

Actually, Lehman is a thing, and it drifts on like Nosferatu, the un-dead, still spreading its influence over everything we do in a way that its bodily manifestation in life was plainly unable to. MF Global has a similar effect, though there, memories fade. We are but mortal.

For Lehman is a risk controller’s magic incantation — a hex, a horcrux, a way of killing lively debate stone dead in its tracks. For any new initiative, any pragmatic proposal to do things in a smarter way, can be derailed by oblique reference to the sad demise of Lehman Brothers, however irrelevant it may be.

For, as we all know, the sky fell in on Lehman’s head because it tried to standardize its business and create robust operational flows that didn’t involve credit sitting on cross default escalations. Had they only been allowed to vacillate nervously for weeks upon end about whether to waive Credit Event Upon Merger for Hedge fund clients, Lehman might still be with us today.

Similarly, opposing counsel — sometimes, even your own — will resist any stroke of your pen against their mangled syntax on the solemn, but unelucidated, pretext that they “lived through the Lehman administration” and are so “scarred by the experience”[1] that any record must state, in legal triplicates, obvious truisms, redundancies and unfalsifable representations — you know the kind of dismal verbiage — and under no circumstances can one leave anything unsaid and at the mercy of the common sense, capacity for formal logic, or ability to parse a sentence phrased in idiomatic English of those learned practitioners who occupy the Queen’s Bench Division.

In other words, yes, you do have to say “this confidentiality agreement may be executed in counterparts, each of which shall be deemed to be deemed an original”, lest the sky should fall in on your head as surely as it did on Lehman’s.

Lehmans, on the other hand, carries on in rude health. As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods.

See also

References

  1. Look, let’s face facts, campers: the Lehman collapse was hardly some POW chain-gang on Burma Railway for our learned friends, so hold those crocodile tears, okay?