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Credit crunch and Dick Fuld: Forget scapegoats

The witch-hunt of Dick Fuld is wrong. But that doesn’t mean it won’t continue.

It is hard to know what to feel about the public stringing-up of Dick Fuld. Watching his grilling by Henry Waxman and his grandstanding Congressional committee felt like sitting in a seat in the Coliseum watching the latest meeting of the Christians and the lions. While not sympathizing with someone who has clearly done wrong, publicly humiliating the man and blaming him for the state of the world doesn’t quite sit right either.

Fuld was a hard-nosed man who dragged himself up the Wall Street ranks by taking risks. Those risks turned Lehman Brothers from a loss-making firm in 1993 to one that made a profit of $4.2 billion. He made himself a very rich man in the process, but he made a lot of other people very rich as well.

As one former employee of Fuld confided, would it not have been great if Fuld had just said to Congress: "I was worth the money. I made some of you very rich. I made shareholders rich. And, by the way, don’t talk to me about financial affairs. I know more than all of you put together" ?

Fuld created an empire and then watched as his empire collapsed.

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