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Lehman tales


Over the past two days, we’ve been treated to two long stories in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal focusing on employees of Lehman Brothers, one year after the firm’s chaotic bankruptcy filing. Yawn.

Now, don’t get me wrong–both stories are well reported and well written.  I was glad to see that one of the people the Times did a mini-profile on was a former Lehman banker who packaged and sold rotting mortgages and is honest enough to admit he has “blood on my hands.”

But it’s not the Lehman employees I’m really concerned about–even if some of them are feeling remorse now. I’m more concerned about average Americans–and for that matter, average people around the globe–who were impacted by the collapse of Lehman and the collateral damage to the financial system.

A year later, we still don’t read or hear enough stories about the average folks who bought Lehman’s now worthless structured notes, which were pitched as conservative investments. Over the past five years, a Lehman subsidiary in Amsterdam sold some $30 billion of these notes to average investors–many of them retirees–in England, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe.