A Former Lehman Brothers Employee Describes How Crazy The Trading Floor Was On That Fateful Day

Steven Perlberg

Bloomberg Businessweek is out with a new issue examining the financial crisis five years on.

Of course, one of the more harrowing moments was when Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in September 2008.

If it was surreal for us, it was even more so for Mo Grimeh, the former head of emerging markets at Lehman (and current head of global/markets Americas at Standard Chartered).

Here's how it went down. From Bloomberg Businessweek:

Sometime around Sunday, 4 o’clock or 5 o’clock, we started getting e-mails saying the deal is dead: no Barclays. We’re gonna file. And that’s where the panic reached a peak. If the bank was going to file for bankruptcy, we wouldn’t be able to enter the building on Monday morning. That’s really the reason everybody headed back to 745 Seventh Ave.: to collect whatever personal items they might have. The trading floor was packed, but people were not working. Some were crying. Some were drinking beer. Some were doing shots of tequila. Most of them were smoking. There was total chaos. I just saw a lot of people packing boxes, taking pictures of their families, clients’ business cards. The girls were just packing boxes and boxes of shoes. I discovered that most females tend to have multiple pairs of shoes under their desks. I had no idea until that day.

With almost $700 billion in assets, Lehman's filing was the largest ever in U.S. history.

Read another Lehman horror story at Bloomberg Businessweek »

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