Uncontrolled Risk: Lessons of Lehman Brothers and How Systemic Risk Can Still Bring Down the World Financial System

Uncontrolled Risk: Lessons of Lehman Brothers and How Systemic Risk Can Still Bring Down the World Financial System

by Mark Williams


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How Excessive Risk Destroyed Lehman and Nearly Brought Down the Financial Industry

Uncontrolled Risk will ruffle feathers—and for good reason—as voters and legislators learn the diffi cult lessons of Lehman’s collapse and demand that we never forget them.”
Dr. David C. Shimko, Board of Trustees, Global Association of Risk Professionals

Uncontrolled Risk is a drama as gripping as any work of fiction. Williams’s recommendations for changes in the governance of financial institutions should be of interest to anyone concerned about the welfare of global financial markets.”
Geoffrey Miller, Stuyvesant Comfort Professor of Law and Director, Center for the Study of
Central Banks and Financial Institutions, New York University

“The complex balance of free enterprise on Wall Street and the healthy regulation of its participants is the central economic issue of today.
Williams’s forensic study of Lehman’s collapse may be the best perspective so far on the issues that now face regulators.”
Jeffrey P. Davis, CFA, Chief Investment Officer,
Lee Munder Capital Group

“Provides a very perceptive analysis of the fl aws inherent in risk management systems and modern fi nancial markets. Mandatory reading for risk managers and financial industry executives.”
Vincent Kaminski, Professor in the Practice of Management,
Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University

“Gives the reader much food for thought on the regulation of our financial system and its interplay with corporate governance reform in the United States and around the world.”
Professor Charles M. Elson, Edgar S. Woolard Jr. Chair in Corporate Governance,
University of Delaware

The risk taking behind Wall Street's largest bankruptcy . . .

In this dramatic and compelling account of
Lehman Brothers’ spectacular rise and fall,
author Mark T. Williams explains how uncontrolled risk toppled a 158-year-old institution—and what it says about Wall Street, Washington, D.C., and the world financial system. A former trading floor executive and Fed bank examiner, Williams sees Lehman’s
2008 collapse as a microcosm of the industry—a worst-case scenario of smart decisions, stupid mistakes,
ignored warnings, and important lessons in money, power, and policy that affect us all.
This book reveals:

  • The Congressional inquisition of disgraced
    CEO Dick Fuld: Did he really deserve it?
  • How the investment-banking money machine broke down: Can it be fixed?
  • The key drivers that caused the financial meltdown: Can lessons be learned from them?
  • The wild risk taking denounced by President
    Obama: Is Washington to blame, too?
  • The ongoing debate on reform and regulation: Can meaningful reform avert another financial catastrophe?

This fascinating account traces Lehman’s history from its humble beginnings in 1850 to its collapse in 2008. Lehman’s story exemplifies the everchanging trends in finance—from investment vehicles to federal policies—and exposes the danger and infectious nature of uncontrolled risk.

Drawing upon first-person interviews with risk management experts and former Lehman employees,
Williams provides more than just a frontline report: it’s a call to action for Wall Street bankers,
Washington policymakers, and U.S. citizens—a living lesson in risk management on which to build a stronger fi nancial future. Williams provides a tenpoint plan to implement today—so another Lehman doesn’t collapse tomorrow.

Includes a ten-point plan to ensure a strong financial future for both Wall Street and
Main Street

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780071638296
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
Publication date: 03/22/2010
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.42(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.88(d)

About the Author

Mark T. Williams is a risk management practitioner and academic with two decades of experience.
He has worked as a senior executive for major energy trading companies, a trust banker, and an examiner for the Federal Reserve Bank. Williams is currently on the fi nance and economics faculty at
Boston University and serves as a senior advisor at the Brattle Group. He has been a guest columnist for Reuters.com, Forbes.com, and the Boston Globe.

Table of Contents

1. The Inquisition
2. Lehman: From Humble Roots to Wall Street Contender
3. From Private to Public
4. History of Investment Banking
5. How the Investment Banking Money Machine Works
6. The Roller-Coaster 1980s
7. The 1990s: Rebuilding Years
8. Lehman's Near Death Experience
9. Innovation, Imitation and Increased Risk: Mortgage-Backed Securities
10. Lehman's Risk Management
11. The Real Estate Bet and the Race to the Bottom
12. The Bear Mauling
13. Time Runs Out
14. The Death of Lehman, Regulation, and Investment Banking
15. The Eneablers and the Deciders
Epilogue: The Post-Lehman Financial Landscape
Appendix: Lehman Brothers Chronology of Key Events

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