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The Murder of Lehman Brothers: An Insider's Look at the Global Meltdown Reviewed by Norm Goldman Of Bookpleasures.com
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Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

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By Norm Goldman
Published on October 21, 2009
 

Author: Joseph Tibman
Publisher: Brick Tower Press
ISBN: 978-188328371-1




Author: Joseph Tibman
Publisher: Brick Tower Press
ISBN: 978-188328371-1

Click Here To Purchase The Murder of Lehman Brothers: An Insider's Look at the Global Meltdown

On September 15th, 2008 Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It was the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history entailing over six hundred billion dollars in assets.

 In view of the recent high-profile content that is found in the media and the Internet concerning the Wall Street meltdown, the timing of Joseph Tibman's (a pen name) The Murder of Lehman Brothers: An Insider's Look at the Global Meltdown could not have been better. For twenty years, Tibman, worked as an investment banker at Lehman Brothers.

 A great many of us are still in the dark as to what actually went wrong at Lehman Brothers and why did it have such a huge world-wide financial impact. Moreover, why was it permitted to fail while others were saved? According to Tibman, timing may have been a factor, but this is not the entire story, as there were many forces that collided to cause the collapse. It is these forces that are detailed in the book and explained in plain English with some foot notes to clarify financial jargon that makes it such an intriguing story. Tibman does admit that he is at a loss as to how many intelligent people who played a role in the catastrophe, some at critical junctures, made the choices of blind, unthinking fools. And as he states, “because this factor figures so prominently in Lehman's death, I do not consider the firm's murder calculated or premeditated.”

Tibman begins his book with a short history of Lehman Brothers from the time the first of the three brothers, Henry emigrated from Bavaria to Montgomery, Alabama in 1844. Within a few years his other two siblings, Emmanuel and Mayer joined him, and it didn't take them too long to establish a full-fledged commodities brokerage company. In 1870 the surviving two brothers expanded to New York where they became pivotal players in the establishment of the New York Cotton Exchange, the nation's first commodities futures trading organization. They were also instrumental in the establishment of several other exchanges. In 1887 they began selling and trading securities and joined the New York Stock Exchange. All of this preceded their early twentieth century vibrant activities when Phillip Lehman, Emmanuel's son became president to be followed by his son Robert “Bobbie” Lehman, who ruled with an iron fist for forty-four years until his death in 1969. When Bobbie died, the dynasty was finished as there was no heir to take his place, and he left behind a divided firm filled with a great many back- stabbing executives. After a power struggle, Frederick Ehrman, who was at Lehman since 1929, emerged as the next head of the firm. He was to be followed by Pete Peterson, Lewis Glucksman and Dick Fuld. Tibman provides his readers with an interesting insight as to how each one of these CEO's ran the Lehman Brothers' ship and devotes considerable ink to Fuld, whom he describes as an “absolute monarch” who had become “little more than the most powerless of constitutional royals.”

Tibman devotes an entire chapter to an examination of the subprime debacle, and as he states: “What really eats away at me is Lehman's part in all of it. And admittedly, there is a certain justice that Lehman, and for that matter Bear Stearns, paid the ultimate price as leaders, at least among investment banks, of an insidious market phenomenon that proved so destructive.”

Overall, much of Tibman's commentary is filled with birds-eye detail about his twenty years of observing the dynamics of Lehman Brothers which he compares to the cyanide-laced Kool-Aid that Jim Jones, the founder and leader of the People's Temple in Jonestown, Guyana, and his followers drank in November 1978. Blindly, his followers drank Jones' nonsense that they would soon be attacked by paratroopers.

In other words, there was a herd mentality that genuinely believed that Lehman Brothers could survive anything thrown in its way even the irrational risk-taking and financial fads that had disastrous repercussions. Tibman aptly places the story of Lehman Brothers in the context of the broader picture involving external forces that eventually led to the Wall Street meltdown.

This is a great story narrated by someone that is quite candid in the wheeling and dealings of a once proud investment banking firm that ran amok due to its errant and misguided behavior that was aided by inept politicians and poor regulations. In a highly readable fashion and well paced, Tidman presents the Lehman Brothers crisis with a great deal of thoroughness and insight that will keep you turning the pages.

 Click Here To Purchase The Murder of Lehman Brothers: An Insider's Look at the Global Meltdown