So, another financial institution has fallen to pieces. American investment bank Lehman Brothers has filed for bankruptcy, and staff in the UK office at Canary Wharf are (probably) being made redundant.
“It is terrible. Death. It’s like a massive earthquake,” says (former) employee Kirsty on the BBC’s website. No. It really isn’t like death. Or at all like an earthquake.
It’s like a load of people who just shuffled figures around on computer screens have stopped. Buckminster Fuller said the definition of real wealth is whatever “nurtures and accommodates human life.” Lehman Brothers didn’t create wealth. Capitalism will carry on without you. Sorry, chaps, you were just cannon fodder.
Although it does raise an interesting question. “I was sure … the Fed would help,” says another employee, Edouard. And of course, we’ve already seen a failing UK bank nationalised and others bailed out by a helpful Labour government.
But – if the capitalist financial system has to be bailed out by the public purse, surely it’s not really capitalism at all? Shouldn’t capitalism allow failing businesses to fail?
Kirsty, meanwhile, has said “I’ll now try to move into another industry.” I wonder which one?