Banker Middle East Features Profile of Rodge Cohen

November 2010
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In its July/August and September issues, Banker Middle East featured a two-part interview with Mr. Cohen, “whose ring-side seat during the grim events of 2008 has given him a unique insight into what went wrong and what could still go wrong,” the publication observed. The wide-ranging profile explored his recollections of the fall of 2008, including what he considered the most difficult part. “I think the most critical aspect was that so much was coming at the policy makers and regulators at once,” Mr. Cohen said. “There was no game book. No one had a plan ahead of time for any of these institutions, much less full financial contagion. It was the cumulative impact. I think you could have handled any one of these, but what you couldn't handle was the whole facade cracking and everybody being at risk.” The interview also covered his thoughts on whether a failure of corporate governance led to the financial crisis. “There were many causes of the financial crisis, but the origins were clearly in the shadow banking system in the U.S., with the mortgage bankers and brokers who were basically unregulated,” he said. In addition, Mr. Cohen discussed the demise of Lehman Brothers, saying, “It was a mistake to let it fail, but I'm not sure if that was a conscious decision.” Mr. Cohen added, “I do think the U.S. legislation, albeit flawed, will address many or indeed most of the regulatory problems, which caused this financial crisis.” When asked about his inspirations, he named “Lincoln and Roosevelt and both of the older Kennedy brothers, John and Robert.”