Dick Fuld Already Planning His Comeback

I had wondered whether former Lehman CEO was more than a tad unbalanced. Anyone who can tell a business peer, as he reportedly did to John Thain, that he would reach down the throat and tear out the heart of those who might be disparaging Lehman, at a minimum is wanting in propriety and decorum. Veiled threats are generally as effective than overt ones and are less likely to lead to future embarrassment.

The latest bit of news, that Fuld plans to re-enter the financial business post-haste, confirm my jaundiced views about his contact with reality.

Although Fuld could be generous, he showed a predilection to bullying, particularly within Lehman, and had can-do types around him who functioned as enablers (it is unclear whether they were caught up in Fuld’s reality distortion or simply and correctly hesitated to cross him).

But Fuld is so unwilling to recognize that he failed Lehman in refusing the terms of some of the late-stage capital raising options that he assumes he can move on immediately to a new gig, without spending any time or effort on rehabilitating his image. Only someone with more than a touch of narcissism could think he could come back so quickly. Even though Mike Milken was a convicted felon, he has a large number of fans who thought he was unfairly targeted by prosecutor Rudy Guilani. Even so, Milken has devoted a great deal of time and energy to charitable activiites to improve his image.

John Gutfreund, who merely made one colossal error of judgment (waiting five weeks before calling the Fed about a trader who cheated on Treasury auctions) has never come close to restoring his former image. Charles Sanford, once celebrated head of Bankers’ Trust, seems to have disappeared from view entirely. I doubt that Marcel Ospel, who turned Swiss Bank, then UBS, from a private bank and plodding international lender, into one of the swashbuckling leaders of global investment banking before driving it off the cliff, thinks that he can quickly return to the financial stage.

From the Financial Times:

Dick Fuld, the former chief executive of Lehman Brothers, is planning a comeback and has told friends he might launch a small advisory firm to harness his contacts in US companies once the dust settles on Lehman’s bankruptcy.

People close to the situation said Mr Fuld’s plans were neither firm nor immediate because the legal and political fall-out from Lehman had still to play out.

In October, Mr Fuld and other Lehman executives received subpoenas relating to federal investigations into whether managers misled the public about the bank’s financial condition before its collapse in September.

Mr Fuld, 62, who ruled Lehman with an iron fist for 15 years, has told former colleagues and clients that he has no intention of retiring. He has argued that his long experience of Wall Street and the corporate world can still be valuable to companies and chief executives.

People close to the situation said one of the options Mr Fuld is considering is the launch of a small advisory boutique to help companies with strategic and financial issues.

Some Wall Street figures doubt whether Mr Fuld would be able to persuade chief executives to hire him for advice after he was sharply criticised by politicians and investors for his stewardship of Lehman

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  1. Steve

    I hope Fuld will be forming a partnership with Madoff to trade canned mackerel, the currency of choice in federal prisons.

  2. RJMConsulting

    I’m sorry Yves, but I’m surprised at your surprise. Chutzpah and hubris are two key ingredients to the diet of current and future financial ceos…

  3. cactus


    I echo RJMConsulting. I’ll even go further… it may take awhile, but there’s a fighting chance Fuld will actually bring in some money. The folks who ran LTCM went on to form another hedge fund, and a lot of people seem to respect Paulson, though he’s basically just Dick Fuld with one additional lucky break.

  4. Anonymous

    Q: What’s the difference between Fuld and Paulson?

    A: Two years.

    Fuld for 75th United States Secretary of the Treasury!

  5. alexant

    Dont call it a comeback
    I been here for years
    Rockin my peers and puttin suckas in fear
    Makin’ the tears rain down like a mon soon
    Listen to the bass go boom
    Explosion overpowerin’
    Over the competition I’m towerin’
    Wreckin shop when I drop these lyrics that’ll make you call the cops
    Don’t you dare stare, you betta move
    Don’t ever compare
    Me to the rest that’ll all get sliced and diced
    Competition’s payin’ the price

    Im gonna knock you out [huuuh!!!]
    Mama said knock you out [huuuh!!!]

    Dont u call this a regular jam
    I’m gonna rock this land
    I’m gonna take this itty bitty world by storm
    And I’m just gettin warm
    Just like Muhammad Ali they called him Cassius
    Watch me bash this beat like a skull
    Cuz u know I had beef wit
    Why do u riff with me, the maniac psycho
    And when I pull out my jammy get ready cuz it might go
    Blaaaaw, how ya like me now?
    The river will not allow
    U to get with, Mr. Smith, dont riff
    Listen to my gear shift
    Im blastin’, outlastin’
    Kinda like Shaft, so U could say I’m Shaftin’
    Old English filled my mind
    And I came up with a funky rhyme


    Shadow boxin when I heard you on the radio [huuuh!!!]
    I just don’t know
    What made you forget that I was raw?
    But now I got a new tour
    Im goin’ insane, startin’ the hurricane, releasin’ pain
    Lettin’ you know that you can’t gain, I maintain
    Unless ya say my name
    Rippin’, killin’
    Diggin’ and drillin’ a hole
    Pass the ol gold


    Shotgun blasts are heard
    When I rip and kill, at will
    The man of the hour, tower of power, I’ll devour
    I’m gonna tie you up and let you understand
    That I’m not your average man
    When I got a jammy in my hand
    Daaaaamn!!!!! Oooooohh!!
    Listen to the way I slaaaaay, your crew
    Damage [uhh] damage [uhh] damage [uhh] damage
    Destruction, terror, and mayhem
    Pass me a sissy so suckas I’ll slay him
    Farmers [what!!!] farmers [what!!!]
    I’m ready [we’re ready!!!]
    I think I’m gonna bomb a town [get down!!]
    Dont u neva, eva, pull my lever
    Cuz I explode
    And my nine is easy to load
    I gotta thank god
    Cuz he gave me the strength to rock
    Hard!! Knock you out, mama said knock you out

  6. Frank

    It seems fairly clear the capitalism experiment has failed. Overwhelming evidence in support of this can be found in the methodology of the attempts at “rescue”. More evidence will manifest over the coming months and years. As we attempt to pick up the pieces, let us hope we are behooved to give consideration to the question of designing a system that does not reward undesirable human characteristics, as has capitalism. Greed, cheating, lying, sociopathy, psychopathy, … are generally considered undesirable by most humans. Perhaps we should think long and hard on how to discourage them in the future. For one possible vision of the future, check out our project in West Virginia, EntropyPawsed

  7. Anonymous

    My money’s on a Fuld comeback. Wall Street has the memory of a fruit fly.

    Bob Nardelli became head of Chrysler EIGHT MONTHS after being forced out of Home Depot after destroying that company.

  8. Jim Goebel

    I wouldn’t be suprised to see Fuld back in action soon. He didn’t strike me as particularily inept or evil, and no doubt his knowledge and skills will be in high demand. Hopefully he gets a middle management job somewhere…

  9. Cognito Era

    The deadly Septembers! Don’t you think this was the work of terrorists, I mean the ‘short selling’, mark-to-market, rumours?

    Wasn’t Lehman Jewish? Perhaps the Treasury did not want to help greedy Jews? Did Dick make a call to Jerusalem?

    Dick: Believe in the Resurrection, there is life after death.

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