Perhaps it is important that someone be blamed for the failure of Lehman. Henry Paulson who did not order Treasury to step in with aid. The most convenient villain is Dick Fuld, the company’s CEO who pushed the firm to a greater and greater levels of leverage.
The most recent candidate is JPMorgan (JPM). Several Lehman customers say the big New York bank pushed Lehman off the edge.
According to The Times of London, "The giant American bank is alleged to have frozen $17 billion (£9.6 billion) of cash and securities belonging to Lehman on the Friday night before its failure."
JP Morgan may have locked up the assets because of money Lehman owed it. Whether its methods were legal or not will take some time to decide.
Lehman’s failure has destroyed a number of hedge funds and cost banks and brokerage firms billions of dollars. They had money with Lehman and that was lost when the firm failed.
JPM may never be found guilty of doing anything wrong. But, Lehman investors and customer will never sleep without an answer as to what triggered the demise. Even if they cannot solve the problem in the courts, they hope that through a morality play they can create an ethically liable party. In the end, it is hard to see how that brings anyone comfort.
Douglas A. McIntyre