Dick Fuld seems to be attempting a possible comeback. The last head of the bankrupt financial firm Lehman Brothers made his first public appearance since that firm’s collapse. But if the reports on his speech are true then Fuld may want to re-think returning to the public eye.
Mr. Fuld gave what the New York Times described as a rambling speech on a number of topics at the Marcum MicroCap Conference held at the Grand Hyatt New York in Midtown Manhattan last Thursday. This was his first public address since 2008. He was supposed to speak on the topic of “How Emerging Growth Companies Can Succeed in Today’s Capital Markets: Perspectives from My Journey, ” but the man who now runs his own firm called Matrix Advisors just talked mostly about himself.
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Funny. Aren’t people supposed to have a public meltdown before they end their careers, not after?
You remember Dick Fuld, don’t you? He was the determined to the point of maniacal financial wizard and Wall Street Titan who helped to almost single handedly cause the financial meltdown of 2008 which led to the Great Recession. Fuld refused to see the writing on the wall and was guilty of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, as it were, while Lehman sank.
It was the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, and the loss of all of the investments and capital that went with it, which was credited with starting the run on all of those sub-prime mortgage backed securities. Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson has said that failing to bail out Lehman as he did Bear Sterns was a grave mistake.
And Fuld took much of the blame.
Dismissing all of the criticism leveled against him in the past seven years, Fuld told 1, 300 financial experts in attendance, “What did Sigmund Freud say? ‘You can say whatever you want about me. I’m O.K. because I know my mother loves me.’ And my mother still loves me. She’s 96.”
It is interesting that he mentioned Freud as CNBC said that he seemed like someone in need of psychotherapy, calling him an angry arrogant man who showed no contrition and who continued to refer to Lehman in the present tense.
“Here’s some PR advice for you, Fuld: If much of America and all of Wall Street remembers you as the CEO who took a company to the grave, don’t try to sell yourself as the epitome of success. When the room has an aroma of gas, don’t ignore the smell. Instead, acknowledge your failures, express humility and explain what you learned from your time of reflection, ” it wrote on the CNBC website.
The financial cable channel had begun to broadcast Fuld’s speech live, but it was pulled midway through by the event’s organizers.
So better luck next time Dick. No one really missed you and no one has been waiting for your return.