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Essay: The Faces of the Financial Crisis

In 2008, the US financial system faced one of its most devastating crisis. Some of the largest investment firms were on the brink of collapse.
Seven days after the U.S government seized control of Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, Lehman brothers became bankrupt, Merryl Lynch was bought out by Bank Of America and AIG was struggling more than it ever had in its entire existence.

There were many questions as to why CEOs, with all of their supposed financial expertise, didn’t understand how to properly respond to the signals of the oncoming market collapse of 2008. Here’s a look at some of the more notable CEOs that have appeared to be at the center of the fiasco.

Stan O’Neal

O’Neal became CEO of Merryl Lynch in 2003. In 2006 he received a salary of $48 million. In September of 2007, Merryl Lynch reported losses of $8 billion. In October of 2007, O’Neal left the company with $161 million deal.

James Cayne

James Cayne was CEO of Bear Stearns and largely credited with its collapse. A market analyst was quoted: “Cayne was the architect of what now appears to be a failed business strategy.”

When J.P Morgan bought Bear Stearns, Cayne dumped his stake and pocketed more than $60 million.

As one employee of Lehman Brothers stated, “the CEOs will be more than fine in the coming years. They will retire or move onto other ventures with their hundreds of millions of dollars, but what will happen to the employees and main street investors who are left to piece their lives back together?”