Email | Print    Type Size  -  +

Captains Blog: Lehman's dying hours

As the clock ticks down, workers file out of a Times Square skyscraper carrying what they can.

By Andy Serwer, managing editor
Last Updated: September 15, 2008: 7:33 AM EDT

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- The last hours, minutes really, of one the world's largest investment banks make for a pretty unusual spectacle.

I'm standing outside Lehman Brothers (LEH, Fortune 500) headquarters on 7th Ave and 50th street in New York City, watching Lehman Brothers die.

Employees, some in suits, others in casual clothes, are filing out with all they can carry as time runs out.

They are walking down the sidewalk past police barricades as scores of New Yorkers and tourists gawk, some asking, "Which star is coming out?" - not knowing what's going on.

A big cop issues the standard "keep moving" line to those of us who stop to gaze. He tells the crowd, "Go home. There is no one famous coming out. You are looking at a whole bunch of people who just lost their jobs."

Some of the people behind the barricades are loved ones - their faces distraught, their cars waiting to pick up their significant others and their boxes. One banker carries out a pair of green Lehman umbrellas, a paltry trophy.

Few parting employees are in a mood to talk - either they're still adhering to CEO Dick Fuld's tight-lipped, 'We're all in this together' policy or they're just exhausted and in major pain.

"No comment," is the standard line. A TV producer tries in vain to get interviews. I managed to ask one guy how he felt: "Look at all of us with boxes," he said with a grimace. "What do you think?"

As the night wears on, dozens of younger workers start coming out of the building. One yells, 'Jackals," not knowing that the crowd is made up mostly of relatives or clueless onlookers. A pair of employees walk out carrying orchids.

Six months earlier and five blocks away, a similar scene played out as Bear Stearns collapsed. Tonight I'm wondering how many more crash and burn nights like this Wall Street, the markets and our economy can take. To top of page

Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 8.29 0.05 0.61%
Advanced Micro Devic... 54.59 0.70 1.30%
Cisco Systems Inc 47.49 -2.44 -4.89%
General Electric Co 13.00 -0.16 -1.22%
Kraft Heinz Co 27.84 -2.20 -7.32%
Data as of 2:44pm ET
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 32,627.97 -234.33 -0.71%
Nasdaq 13,215.24 99.07 0.76%
S&P 500 3,913.10 -2.36 -0.06%
Treasuries 1.73 0.00 0.12%
Data as of 6:29am ET
More Galleries
10 of the most luxurious airline amenity kits When it comes to in-flight pampering, the amenity kits offered by these 10 airlines are the ultimate in luxury More
7 startups that want to improve your mental health From a text therapy platform to apps that push you reminders to breathe, these self-care startups offer help on a daily basis or in times of need. More
5 radical technologies that will change how you get to work From Uber's flying cars to the Hyperloop, these are some of the neatest transportation concepts in the works today. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.