The Euromoney spoilt goods index
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The Euromoney spoilt goods index

Bank failures used to be massive news. But with so many cropping up these days they have, like world records at the Beijing Olympics, lost something of their shock value. How then to judge which have made the biggest waves?


Certainly there’s a case for noting spread movements across the capital markets in the wake of each failure but Euromoney has, as ever, a less conventional method.

When a bank disappears, it is common practice for its former employees to sell off anything they can with the now defunct bank’s logo on it. Searching a dead bank’s name on online auction site eBay reveals which banks are presumed to have the highest profile. If there’s a lot of interest, there are a lot of items available.

By this measure, Lehman Brothers remains the most glittering failure of them all, with 281 items available on eBay. Unsurprisingly, recent failures take the top positions, as over time the number of items decreases as they are bought by willing punters. Special mention must therefore go to Bear Stearns and ABN Amro which, despite having taken their bows several months ago, remain in contention with 35 and 18 items respectively.

Failed Institution eBay item count
Lehman Brothers 281
Merrill Lynch 143
AIG 72
Washington Mutual 63
Bear Stearns 35
ABN Amro 18
Wachovia 12
Alliance & Leicester 1
Bradford & Bingley 1
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