Ten Years On – A Reflection

“With Lehman filing for bankruptcy, Merrill falling into the arms of B of A, and AIG scrambling to announce a restructuring plan, investors had their hands full to start this week. The Dow dropped 500 points as the Fed refused any Bear-type rescues. Now it may be morale hazard.” – On The Left, September 15, 2008.

With the headline ‘Is It Friday Yet?’, so began our predecessor newsletter commentary on that fateful Monday a decade ago. Little did we know how much those unthinkable events, and the extraordinary regulatory and legislative intervention that followed, would change world financial markets. And the way those markets forever after perceive risk.

As the tenth anniversary of Lehman’s fall approaches this week, there’s been much in the media about what happened to precipitate the Great Financial Crisis. Do we understand its implications, and have we made the appropriate changes in structures and behavior to defend against something similar occurring again?

The primary culprit for the crisis – weak underwriting standards for sub-prime mortgages – has been largely addressed. Another fault line – a poorly capitalized banking system – has also been alleviated, thanks to more Tier I capital raising.