Which ‘Titan of Finance’ Nearly Burst Into Tears During a Phone Call With the Treasury?


We’ve only just now read James Stewart’s absurdly thrilling recounting of the dark days of the financial crisis in this week’s New Yorker, and while we’ll have more to say about that later for the twenty of you who care, we’d first like to raise a question about this juicy little tidbit from page 74, about an incident that occurred September 17, two days after the failure of Lehman Brothers.

Geithner said, It’s hard to describe how bad it was and how bad it felt. He got a call from a “titan of the financial system” who said he was worried but he was doing fine. His voice was quavering. After hanging up, Geithner immediately called the man back. ‘Don’t call anyone else,’ Geithner said. “If anyone hears your voice, you’ll scare the shit out of them.”

Good call, Geith. Voices carry, and all that. But who was this weepy-voiced titan?

Good call, Geith. Voices carry, and all that. But who was this weepy-voiced titan?

We’d say it was Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit, because if anyone on Wall Street seems predisposed to crying jags, it’s him. But then again, that aspect of his personality aside, probably no one would refer to him as a “titan.” Of the people who could reasonably be called titans, we don’t really see JPMorgan’s swashbuckling Jamie Dimon “quavering.” Bank of America’s Ken Lewis might have quavered, but only because of the drink. It could have been Wells Fargo’s John Stumpf. Or Goldman Sachs’s Lloyd Blankfein 

From a few paragraphs later:

It was chaotic,” Blankfein recalls of the rumors about Goldman’s survival. “There were people taking deep breaths, including me from time to time.”

That’s right, Lloyd. Don’t be ashamed. It takes a strong man to cry.

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