Inside Lehman Brothers


Stockton, California. September 2007. I came to investigate the subprime crisis in this dormitory town that owes them everything — its hopes, and its downfall.

Every morning at the hotel, I scanned the record for legal announcements of court-ordered evictions.

I still remember that pencil stroke around the ad.

Arriving in front of the house, the cameraman and I discover a scene that we have seen a hundred times in the cinema: bathed in Californian sun, a little black girl plays on the steps. "Yes, mommy's here. "

The door opens. I introduce myself. "I'm a French journalist. I saw the expulsion notice in the newspaper.” The woman collapses. She had not read the newspaper yet.

I have never forgotten the faces of those who have lost everything through the fault of banks, greedy to the point of reversing the basic rules of credit.

Inside Lehman Brothers is the autopsy of this crime, by those who tried to prevent it from within. As mortgage brokers for Lehman’s subsidiary BNC, Linda Weekes and her Californian colleagues were at the forefront of the subprime crisis. Matthew Lee, then headquartered in New York, was the first leader to have refused to validate the accounts tainted by fraudulent transactions.

At the time, nobody listened to these whistleblowers.

In 2007 and 2008, other banks, lost by the same greed and were saved by the Fed. On Wall Street, they say Lehman Brothers was "sacrificed.”

It was necessary to make an example, to punish the cowboys of Lehman, to promise that this would not happen again.

Today, banks have recovered their health, and with it, their bad habits. Toxic assets, derivatives — the labels have changed but the mechanisms remain, unlocked by Donald Trump, who hastens to tear down frail safeguards erected by the Dodd-Frank Act. Worse still, many of the cabinet of advisors around the current President were the ones who drove the system into bankruptcy back in 2008.

The fight of our characters has not aged. But, even today nobody hears them. Inside Lehman Brothers is the result of an investigative survey, conducted by the team for over two years. 

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