Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Life After Lehman

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It was a year ago today that Lehman went bust.

I was in London that Monday a year ago, parked at our Bedfont Lakes offices near Heathrow Airport.

That previous Friday, I had been in the Admiral’s Club at Austin Bergstrom, waiting on the plane that would take me to Chicago, and then on to London from there.

While I sat waiting, I remember distinctly a Lehman employee pointedly trying to reassure a client over the phone that Lehman would continue to be a going concern on Monday.

But on Monday we discovered his reassurances were ill-fated.

Me, while in London and other parts of Europe throughout the next ten days, I felt like a stranger in a strange land…I didn’t know quite what to make of it all.

The same weekend, Hurricane Ike had hit the Texas coast and decimated Galveston, and from the shores of the U.K., it seemed like the world was quickly coming to an end.

Continuous financial headlines over the course of the next week confirmed the discombobulation.

Here’s what I wrote in that Monday blog post:

I‘m working from London today, attending meetings at IBM’s Bedfont Lakes location just outside Heathrow airport.

I’m about five hours ahead of the opening of the New York markets, and considering the constant stream of seemingly bad news concerning numerous financial services and investment firms over the weekend, I had to laugh to myself when I read that the Wall Street Journal is expected to launch some new social networking and community features tomorrow.

I hope there’s still someone around in that industry to sign up for those new community features.

Last one out, turn off the Delicious tags!

In the case of the Journal, an Associated Press story indicates that with the new Journal site, community members will be able to comment on individual stories, create discussion groups, and ask one another for advice.

Actually, it’s very exciting to me to see the major media turn on such features.

As I traveled on the Heathrow Express from Paddington Station back to the airport this morning, I had a short 15 minutes to ponder what questions I might like to pose to the Journal’s community using these new features when they become available.

I eventually arrived at the following.

Is my money safer:

A) Stuffed deep into my Sleep Number mattress (sleep number of 35)

B) Filed away in an anonymous Swiss bank account

C) On the “Come” line of a Las Vegas casino craps table

D) Invested in South Florida condominiums

E) Sitting in my non-interest bearing PayPal account

F) None of the above

I haven’t gone back to determine where my money would have ultimately been the safest.  I suspect it may have been a toss-up between “C” and “E,” although I hear the South Florida condo market is on the rebound.

I eagerly await hearing what our president has to say about the tidings since the year of Lehman’s demise and the onslaught of the financial crisis.

Though I tend to think of myself as a financial conservative, I think a healthy amount of regulation is necessary to maintain a level playing field and to keep the bad actors in line.

Many have argued regulators failed us by not adequately enforcing the existing regulations, but in an environment where mortgage brokers were giving loans to people not qualified for them like candy to kids on Halloween, I also think the rules moving forward should provide more clarity and transparency to the risk the big financial firms are taking on.

16 to 1 leverage would have been enough to send me running with my money to the exits had I known about it at the time.

And I can get 35-1 odds if I roll boxcars (6-6) out in Vegas at the craps table!

More on that as I continue my drumbeat about the Information on Demand Conference taking place October 25-29 at the Mandalay Bay in Viva Las Vegas.

Written by turbotodd

September 14, 2009 at 3:49 pm

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