Early this morning, former Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld woke up in his sprawling Greenwich manse, pulled off his footie pajamas, gargled, and plucked the errant hairs descending over his brow in preparation for his first public appearance since September 10, five days before Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. He was due to testify in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform at 10 a.m. this morning, where he would be expected to defend himself against allegations that the firm misled clients and investors about the extent of its losses in the days leading up to its declaration of bankruptcy — and it was fair to say he had butterflies, in particular about that time his CFO told investors they wouldn’t be seeking extra capital because “our capital position at the moment is strong” the day after they’d decided internally they needed to raise $3 billion dollars. That would be awkward.
Meanwhile, down in Washington, D.C., committee chair Henry Waxman bounded out of bed. He’d been looking forward to this all weekend. “We need to understand why Lehman failed and who should be held accountable,” he’d written in an e-mailed statement the day before. The company’s implosion “sparked a financial crisis on Wall Street that is causing massive economic disruption … The taxpayers are being asked to pay $700 billion to bail out Wall Street. They are entitled to know who caused the meltdown and what reforms are needed.” Waxman opened his secret closet. He regarded the lube, nipple clamps, and baseball bat, and smiled ruefully, then closed the door. Not this time. This time, words would have to be enough. The hearings “are all about rich people getting money,” Congressman Darrell Issa explained to Bloomberg. “Henry Waxman hates rich people.”