Tag Archives: 2008 financial crash

The Sergeant Schultz of Wall Street

“Waiter, waiter! My table is on fire! Can we have some water?”

“Sorry, sir, that’s not my station.”

I ended my last post about Bruce Lisman with a reminder of his 2010 comments to the effect that the 2008 financial collapse was some sort of unforeseeable natural event, a “Darwinian asteroid,” “this thing that happened.”

Well, he did offer some further comments on his Wall Street tenure during his interview with Mark Johnson, but they didn’t do anything to soften my criticism. He expressed pride in his own record as a Bear Stearns executive, and professed ignorance of the gross malfeasance that was going on at the doomed company.

In a sense, he had a point. He was busy running his own division, and it wasn’t his responsibility to make himself aware of what other executives were doing. Although, it must be said, the misdeeds of his fellow Bear Stearns execs turned out to be a disaster for his division’s clients as well as everyone else in the goddamn world.

And what does it say about his insight, his judgment, that he could be stationed on the deck of the Titanic and not see the iceberg coming? Or not raise serious questions about the decision to steer the ship through the North Atlantic ice fields? Especially when he’s so sharply critical of the Shumlin administration’s failure to plan ahead, take the long view, make government predictable and accountable, and gather the data necessary to make intelligent long-range decisions?

He is expecting far more of state government than he expected of himself and his fellow executives. And he is demanding a level of accountability for state officials that he is still not willing to assume for the catastrophic dealings of Bear Stearns, the firm where he spent his entire career.

Think I’m being harsh? Let’s look at the transcript.

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