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Investigative Report on Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008

Mar 12, 2010

The New York Times is reporting on the investigation into the causes of the collapse of Lehman Brothers back in September of 2008. The investigation concludes that Lehman Brothers engaged in some "aggressive accounting" to make its financial position look much better than it really was. In other words, they had another set of books that were kept secret from the public.

The news article states:

It is the Wall Street equivalent of a coroner's report -- a 2,200-page document that lays out, in new and startling detail, how Lehman Brothers used accounting sleight of hand to conceal the bad investments that led to its undoing.

The report, compiled by an examiner for the bank, now bankrupt, hit Wall Street with a thud late Thursday. The 158-year-old company, it concluded, died from multiple causes. . . .

But the examiner, Anton R. Valukas, also for the first time, laid out what the report characterized as "materially misleading" accounting gimmicks that Lehman used to mask the perilous state of its finances. . . .

Mr. Valukas was appointed by the United States Trustee in the case in January 2009 to investigate the causes of the Lehman bankruptcy, as well as to find out if any fraud or misconduct took place. . . .

By his reckoning, Lehman managed to "shed" about $39 billion from its balance sheet at the end of the fourth quarter of 2007, $49 billion in the first quarter of 2008 and $50 billion in the second quarter. At that time, Lehman sought to reassure the public that its finances were fine - despite pressure from short-sellers like the hedge fund manager David Einhorn. . . .

The effect of the accounting was to artificially and temporarily lower the firm's debt levels to hit certain targets, making the firm look healthier than it really was. . . .


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Category: Financial

Dr. Stephen Jones

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