Daily Flog: Celebrity roast of Lehman on Capitol Hill



What did he know? When did he know it? While Lehman was assuring everyone last year that it had everything under control and its share price hadn’t started its final fall into oblivion, CEO Richard Fuld sold big chunks for big cash, according to SEC records.

Passing through the four stages of our grief with lightning speed, Wall Street became Fall Street, then Wail Street, and now Bail Street.

But there’s never enough money to satisfy these self-proclaimed victims. Late last week, the Wall Street Journal‘s Robert Frank reported, in “Wealthy Are Afraid They’ll Run Out of Money”:

According to a new survey from American Express Publishing and the Harrison Group, nearly half of respondents with incomes of $250,000 or more agreed with the statement that “I worry that at some point I could run out of money.” That’s up from about a third in April.

Fully 69 percent agreed with the statement that “The recent real estate and banking crisis has affected my sense of financial security.”

Of course, $250,000 is only “Obama wealthy.” And running out of money “at some point” is a long time horizon. Yet the survey suggests that even high-income earners are cutting back their spending for fear of what the financial future might bring. Fully two-thirds say that they are “looking closely at every spending category to see where I can save.”

Now it’s time for others to look closely. Who will lose the blame game? Setting up today’s scheduled grilling of ex-Lehman’s ex-CEO Richard Fuld by Henry Waxman‘s House committee, this morning’s Wall Street Journal peers into the what exactly happened at the bankrupt investment bank’s HQ on Avenue of the Americas.

We were fooled, yes, but we won’t get Fuld again — assuming he even shows up. As of late last week, Waxman was still stonewalled on his September 18 request for Fuld’s and Lehman’s e-mails and memos. Check out the PDF of Waxman’s scathing September 26 letter to Fuld.

But others already have some details on who and what moved in Lehman’s bowels.

In “The Two Faces of Lehman’s Fall: Private Talks of Raising Capital Belied Firm’s Public Optimism,” Carrick Mollenkamp, Susanne Craig, Jeffrey McCracken, and Jon Hilsenrath reveal inside dealings and double-talk at the investment bank’s HQ.

That story’s just a biopsy. There’s enough blood and garbage on the Street to keep crime-scene investigators enthused for years. Is there a forensic proctologist in the house?

For one thing, despite this weeper from the WSJ — ‘The Lehman Stock Slide Hits Home: Employees Face $10 Billion in Losses’ — Fuld and others have stashed cash where the sunshine laws don’t shine.

There’s a big difference between money on paper and cash in the wallet. Yes, the value of Fuld’s stock cache has bottomed out. But Fuld cashed in for more than $50 million during only two days of insider sales of Lehman stock before it began its last precipitous slide in 2007, according to SEC records (see illustration above).

Wonder if Waxman will bring up that profit-taking with Fuld later today. As Reuters noted yesterday:

Waxman has a reputation for raking high-profile corporate executives over the coals as cameras roll.

Fuld is scheduled to appear before the committee on Monday in what would be his first public appearance since Lehman filed for bankruptcy

Don’t expect that hearing to be televised, so instead of browsing porn, watch Lehman’s jerkoff CEO on the live stream on C-SPAN.

But first . . .


Reuters: ‘British commander says war in Afghanistan cannot be won’

Bloomberg: ‘Fuld May Blame Confidence Crisis for Lehman’s Fall at Hearing’

Agence France Presse: ‘JPMorgan blamed for Lehman collapse in court documents: report’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Bailout’s Bid to Limit Executive Pay Will Be Tough to Realize’

N.Y. Times: ‘Full of Doubts, U.S. Shoppers Cut Spending’

Reuters: ‘Spermicide Coke, stale chips research wins Ig Nobels’

House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: ‘Chairman Waxman Announces Hearings on Financial Meltdown’
Oct. 6: Lehman bankruptcy and AIG bailout, Day One
Oct. 7: Lehman bankruptcy and AIG bailout, Day Two
Oct. 16: Regulation of hedge funds
Oct. 22: Breakdown of credit rating agencies
Oct. 23: Role of federal regulators

Washington Post: ‘Artful Dodging Trumps Open Evasion, Studies Show: Palin Criticized After Avoiding Questions’

IOL (South Africa): ‘Racism: the elephant in the US polling booth’

L.A. Times: ‘Frank talk of Obama and race in Virginia’

BBC: ‘Saudi cleric favours one-eye veil’

Wall Street Journal: ‘The Lehman Stock Slide Hits Home: Employees Face $10 Billion in Losses’

Haaretz: ‘Israeli investment bankers find Wall St. tumble ruins Rosh Hashanah’

N.Y. Times: ’11 Die as U.S. Force Raids House in Iraqi City and Man Detonates a Suicide Vest’

IRIN: ‘IRAQ: Move to allow doctors to carry guns provokes mixed reaction’

L.A. Times: ‘Mishaps mark John McCain’s record as naval aviator’

BBC: ‘Somalia is ‘most ignored tragedy’

Washington Post: ‘Registration Gains Favor Democrats: Voter Rolls Swelling in Key States’

New York: ‘Wall Street, Fall 2009: Things look grim at the moment, but where will we be a year from now? That depends on who’s president.’

BBC: ‘Two Black Hawks down in Baghdad’

Caucasian Knot (Moscow): ‘Authorities in Ingushetia terrorize the population’

BBC: ‘ “Milkshake murderer” loses appeal’

N.Y. Times: ‘Microwaved Chicken Isn’t Necessarily Cooked Chicken’

Wall Street Journal: ‘China to Allow Short Selling on Trial Basis’

The Age (Australia): ‘OJ Simpson isolated in jail “for his own safety” ‘

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Friends of Mayor Bloomberg make contributions to a third party’

Jurist: ‘Fraud charges laid against USAID subcontractor in Afghanistan’

China Digital Times: ‘Chinese Cities Wake up to a New Superfood: Yak Milk’


N.Y. Daily News: ‘Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie seem happy together in NYC’