Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Debt: formerly considered the best thing money could buy

Some naïve part of me has always supposed that when a bank died, the collapse/explosion would be something akin to the death of a star in the cosmos. No such phenomena attended the end of Lehman Brothers, though glancing across the covers of today’s papers (in some surprise, having seen/heard no news bulletins for 48 hours), I saw a lot of well-groomed and utterly gutted young professionals consoling one another after hasty clearings of desks.
What did Lehman reckon were its odds that Secretary Paulson would bail them out instead of ruling it were a better thing that the bank fell? That would be an interesting set of figures.
Meantime I have now caught up with the reportage and analysis, some of which is to the effect that Lehmann’s demise is a testament to functional capitalism and the survival of the fittest. This time, maybe. I won’t be celebrating, not least because for umpteen reasons I couldn’t be neutral about the state's efforts to keep Northern Rock afloat last year.
I suppose one silver lining is that, for a while at least, investment banking should now be seen as a career option roughly as hare-brained as putting your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington.

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