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A Look Back at the Collapse of Lehman Brothers

Lehman Brothers survived the Civil War, the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the attacks of 9/11, yet under the leadership of Richard Fuld the investment bank went from storied Wall Street firm to catalyst of last year's economic crisis. What went wrong? Paul Solman reports.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And still to come on the NewsHour tonight: the partisan divide; and the father of the green revolution.

    That follows two takes on the financial crisis: what happened, and what's next. Economics correspondent Paul Solman begins with a look back at the biggest bankruptcy in American history. It's part of his series on "Making Sense of Financial News."

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    Just one year ago, the day Lehman Brothers collapsed and Wall Street catapulted towards catastrophe, New York artist Geoffrey Raymond made his way to Lehman headquarters.

  • GEOFFREY RAYMOND:

    I'm walking up 49th Street. I turn the corner, and Broadway is completely full of TV trucks with their cones up and this and that. And it's a massive media spectacle. And I set up my Richard Fuld painting and joined the fray.

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    Fuld was Lehman's CEO, wildly blamed for driving Lehman off a cliff and the world along with it. Raymond, who'd quit P.R. to become an artist, had been painting the wizards of finance because he figured they'd sell.

    But as Wall Street buckled, he thought his usual fusion of Jackson Pollock and Chuck Close could use a few added touches from the man on the street.

  • GEOFFREY RAYMOND:

    Would you like to write on my painting? It's a portrait of Richard Fuld. I paint controversial Wall Street guys, and then I let the community comment.

  • MAN ON THE STREET:

    Worth $300 million? That's pretty funny.

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    A year later, having sold his first Fuld to a Lehman banker who left the firm in disgust before its demise, Raymond is back on the street with a second version.

  • GEOFFREY RAYMOND:

    Gentlemen, come write something on my painting. Life is short.

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    Soliciting comments once more.

  • GEOFFREY RAYMOND:

    The only rule is, don't write on the face.

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    Strikingly, much of the world, or that slice of it which sight-sees on Wall Street, still curses Fuld and Lehman for our collective year of horror, and so does former Lehman V.P. Lawrence McDonald, one of a group of skeptics within the firm during the salad days.

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