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The Rage of the Previously Rich

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Lehman staffers in London felt particularly stung. Barclays acquisition includes only Lehman’s New York operations, meaning that the employees at Canary Wharf are going to be jettisoned. On the morning of September 17, one London managing director sent a terse e-mail to Lehman’s president, and cc’d the entire London office. The message—subject line: “To Tom, Michael and Bart: The Email that Never Came”—complained bitterly that New York never expressed gratitude for London’s efforts even while they were thrown under the bus.

Then, just before 10 p.m. on September 16, Fuld finally sent a memo to the staff. “I know that this has been very painful on all of you both personally and financially,” he wrote. “For this, I feel horrible.”

It was the apology the staffers had sought for days.

On September 17, word filtered through the office that Barclays would keep people on for only several months as they figured out whom they wanted to retain. One staffer remarked that he was glad he had decided not to enroll his kid in private school. “It’s sinking in how much money people have and what they can afford going forward,” the Trader said.

On Saturday, September 13, the Trader took his 8-year-old son to his first Yankees game, against Tampa Bay. “My 8-year-old is asking me questions about the economy. And I’m thinking, You should really think about baseball,” the Trader said.

The Trader paid for great seats. They sat fieldside in the languid summer afternoon, six rows from the Yankees dugout. When the Yankees took the field, the Trader’s son erupted in cheers.

“Jeter! Jeter! Jeter!” he yelled, but the players jogged out to the field, with scarcely a glance toward the stands.

“Daddy, why doesn’t he answer?” the son asked.

And suddenly, the Trader boiled with anger. He had done his part, put in the sixteen-hour days to buy his kid the best seats in the stadium. Lehman, and the career he signed up for, was disappearing in front of his eyes. Yet the Yankees were losing, and Derek Jeter was still going to take home his $21 million, and he couldn’t even bother to show some gratitude. It was a fantasy world, out of touch.

“Those guys have the easiest job,” the Trader thought, “when it’s clear they don’t care. Fuck, in my next life I want to be a baseball player.”


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