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When Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008, heralding the onset of the latest recession, the focus was on the greed and vanity of the Americans who ran the doomed investment giant. But, the fifth estate has uncovered the Canadian connection to that collapse, in House of Cards.

His name: Brian Chisick. A Grade 10 dropout from Vancouver who moved to California, Chisick pioneered a predatory type of lending there. He made his first fortune preying on borrowers with hidden upfront fees and sky-high interest rates. Wall Street behemoths like Lehman Brothers bankrolled Chisick and learned that they could sell bad loans to millions of people. This inspired a pandemic of self-delusion and excess that brought on an economic crisis unmatched since the Great Depression, 80 years ago.

House of Cards is also the story of one of Wall Street’s “masters of the universe”, Lehman Brothers’ chairman and CEO Richard Fuld. Once an icon of rugged capitalism, Fuld eventually became a symbol of vanity and greed. His company’s lending practices would eventually cause the collapse of the storied financial institution Lehman Brothers. In its ruins lay the reputations of the proud and powerful and, more significantly, the lives of millions of ordinary people who put their trust, and their life savings, in Lehman Brothers.

About the collapse of Lehman Brothers, one interview subject says: “They’ll be talking about it for a hundred years. It was the day capitalism changed.”

 
Linden MacIntyre
Biography: Linden MacIntyre joined the fifth estate as co-host for the 1990-91 season. He is one of Canada's most distinguished... Read more
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