Rodge Cohen Interviewed on his Role in Navigating the Financial Crisis

The Financial Times and Bloomberg TV - September 10, 2009

As the one-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers approaches, various media outlets reached out to Rodge Cohen, one of the most instrumental figures in helping clients navigate what Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has called the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression, for his perspective on the situation.

  • The Financial Times' web site featured a video that documented the fall of Lehman Brothers and the course that ultimately led to Barclays Capital's acquisition of the firm. Mr. Cohen shared his thoughts on the collaborative efforts to find a solution that would save the firm from bankruptcy. "There would be hours, minutes, when you would expect that a solution would be available to Lehman - and then you'd be plunged back into the depths again when that seemed to go away," said Mr. Cohen. "On that Sunday morning, just preceding the Lehman collapse, the outlines of the solution had emerged. And the banks, both investment banks and commercial banks, had agreed on the outline of a proposal. The government, I think, had done an excellent job on cajoling those institutions and they were beginning to see some of the potential damage. So, it was there, we just ran out of time."
  • Mr. Cohen also spoke with Bloomberg TV on the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the recent pickup in M&A activity, the current state of the financial markets and what the future might hold for the economy. Mr. Cohen reflected, "It was definitely one of the top five most intense [moments of my career], but it was also number one in being a disappointment, because until the very last I thought we'd be able to pull it out, and it just didn't happen." Mr. Cohen also noted what the recent increase in mergers and acquisitions may signify. "I am regarding this increase in M&A as a positive because M&A is so much about psychology, perhaps about as much about psychology as it is finance. [W]hen you see M&A start, I think what it suggests is that people are feeling better about themselves, more comfortable about their own situation and more comfortable about their ability to assess the target institution," he said. As for the situation on Wall Street, he said, "...I would believe that Wall Street would come out stronger...I believe that the leaders of Wall Street understand what happened and will be able to accommodate the changes that are necessary. ...It's not going to be easy to regain the trust, but as Wall Street demonstrates that it knows better how to manage risk, to identify risk, I think the incredible engine that is U.S. capitalism will once again regain its place."