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Steve Chiotakis: A year ago next week, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. The investment bank’s demise set off a market spiral and helped deepen our nation’s financial crisis. It also left thousands of people out of work.
One of them was Dave Demuro. He was Lehman’s Director of Global Compliance and Regulation. And this morning, he tells us how his world changed — in his own words.
Dave Demuro: This time last year, I was at Lehman Brothers, a place that I had been for about 24 and a half years. It was really a very collegial environment-a place where we worked hard but felt very, very good about what we were doing. So that added, really, to the tragedy of the firm’s demise.
When I got the e-mail that the firm was filing bankruptcy, it’s really difficult, kind of difficult to comprehend what that might mean. Certainly by the end of September, I knew that I would be coming to the end of my tenure.
About 30 percent of the firm was owned by employees, which meant that at the time that the firm went bankrupt that its employees suffered losses in the billions of dollars. I lost a lot of money, but I think, more to the point, a whole lot of people lost a lot of money as a result of what happened in late 2008.
I still have my home, I have a job, I still have enough working brain cells that I’m able to make a living, and for that I’m extraordinarily grateful.
My purview as compliance director was to make sure that we were operating within the rules laid down by the regulators and by Congress, and I think that we had largely done that. In retrospect, do I wish we hadn’t gotten as deeply involved in mortgage securitizations? Sure. Do I wish we hadn’t had the level of exposure that we did in the commercial real estate market? Of course. But that’s easy to say now, isn’t it?
What do I think should have happened? Obviously I would have been much happier had Lehman Brothers continued to exist. I was proud to have worked there, proud of the work that we had done. You know, I’m always going to be disappointed about the fact that we didn’t, that we weren’t able to make it.
Chiotakis: Dave Demuro. Marketplace’s Amy Scott produced our story.
Produced with help from Rafael Cohen.
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