In the second episode of Meltdown, we look at how the financial tsunami swept the world. We hear about a renegade executive who nearly destroyed the global financial system and the US treasury secretary who bailed out his friends.
Henry ‘Hank’ Paulson, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs and later an economic advisor to the US government; refused to bail out global financial services firm – the Lehman Brothers. Paulson said it was not the role of government to save private businesses.
Lehman’s failure had repercussions around the world. Millions of people lost their life savings. Pension plans were decimated.
Christine Lagarde, the French finance minister at the time and a close friend of Paulson’s, publicly described Paulson’s decision on Lehman “horrendous”.
Markets from London and Paris to Shanghai fell. An epidemic of fear caused the world’s major banks to stop lending, ending the year in protests and industrial action.