Risk Latte - Bankers Also Cry

Bankers Also Cry

Rahul Bhattacharya
September 12, 2008

If you sit in the Starbucks on the ground floor of Mori Tower, situated in the fashionable Roppongi district of Tokyo and watch the people walk up the counter and queue up for their lattes and mochas you'll be surprised to see how many of them do a peculiar kind of a walk. They have this swagger, this arrogant, "get-out-of-the-way-I-have-arrived" kind of walk which is very difficult to put into words. One has to watch it to understand.

You'll immediately know that these guys are from Lehman Brothers.

It is the "Lehman Walk" that they follow. Most of us, the lesser mortals, the non-Ph.D.s and the non-MBAs, follow the random walk in life. Not these guys. It is an interesting phenomenon, this "Lehman Walk", and apparently the Lehman stock has been following it for the past couple of months.

If you look closely at their attire then you'll notice that written on their shirts or suit jackets will be: "I am an MIT Ph.D.", "I went to Oxford and am a Rhodes scholar" or "I have a Harvard MBA". Fresh faced, Indian kids would have written on their shirt lapels: "I am an MBA from IIM". Of course, all this is written in invisible ink, but it is quite visible to a discerning eye.

Looking at them and hearing them talk you'd be able to associate all kinds of emotions and human feelings with these bankers; rage, anger, annoyance, arrogance, impatience, nonchalance towards their immediate environment, possibly love, certainly happiness. But you'd never imagine that these guys can ever cry.

Therefore, it came as shock to us this morning when Financial Times (FT) quoted one of the Lehman bankers in New York as saying that 25,000 Lehamn employees were crying, literally or otherwise, over their fate. They were crying over their lost jobs and loss on their stock options. In a front page article on Lehman, FT quotes a Lehman banker as saying, "There are 25,000 people who are sitting there crying. I just hope there is a solution."

We hope so too mate. After all, we wouldn't want your wife or girlfriend to run away with a Goldman banker.

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