Sunday, October 12, 2014
Revisiting the Lehman Brothers Bailout That Never Was
Inside the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, time was running out to answer a question that would change Wall Street forever.
At issue that September, six years ago, was whether the Fed could save a major investment bank whose failure might threaten the entire economy.
The firm was Lehman Brothers. And the answer for some inside the Fed was yes, the government could bail out Lehman, according to new accounts by Fed officials who were there at the time.
But as the world now knows, no one rescued Lehman. Instead, the firm was allowed to collapse overnight, a decision that, in cool hindsight, let problems at one bank snowball into a full-blown panic. By the time it was over, nearly every other major bank had to be saved.
Why, given all that happened, was Lehman the only bank that was not too big to fail? For the first time, Fed officials have offered an account that differs significantly from the versions that, for many, have hardened into history....