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Conspiracy? Probably Not.

Muffie Benson-Perella, moonlighting today as ghostwriter for Fortune Editor at Large Patricia Sellers, wonders in her "Postcards From the Pinnacles of Power" column why Lehman wasn't saved, given its extensive "presidential connections."
Dick Paulson, Hank Paulson's brother, great-grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, and great-great-grandson of Theodore Rosevelt, President Bush's second cousin, and Jeb Bush were all wonderfully nepotistic opportunities to keep conspiracy theorists buying Reynolds Wrap to wrap around their heads for years. (Flash trade idea: Short the Rank Group, Ltd., and go long tin futures before spreading the word that Reynold's Wrap is actually Aluminum foil). So why didn't Lehman get saved?

Wasn't it a mistake to let Lehman Brothers fail? Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson was asked this very question in a Q&A that ran in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, and he replied, "We didn't have an option." He said that Lehman had neither a buyer, as Bear Stearns did in JPMorgan Chase (JPM), nor adequate assets to justify a life-saving federal loan.

Lehman Brothers' presidential connections [Fortune CNN etc.]


Lehman Brothers Thought Fight To Stay Alive Was A Battle Of Good (Them) Versus Evil (Everyone Else)

As some of you may recall, a month after Lehman Brothers went under, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released an interesting email Dick Fuld had sent to LEH vice-chairman Thomas Russo on Saturday, April 12, 2008, circa midnight. Dick had just come back from a dinner with Hank Paulson and was so excited to relay the details he couldn't wait 'til the next day to get in touch with Russo, who he apparently viewed as his "teacher." Fuld said his key "takeaways" were that the government loved Lehman, that Paulson wanted to "kill the bad hedge funds" (like those diabolical shorts Fuld knew were to blame for his problems), and that while the then Treasury Secretary appeared to have a "worried view" of Merrill Lynch, Dick got the sense that Paulson thought Lehman was in terrific shape. Per the bankruptcy documents put online last week, here's how the rest of the conversation between Fuld and his Sensei went.