Lehman Brothers & Subprime Crisis

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Introduction The global financial crisis that erupted in September 2008 has thrown economies around the world into a recession. The root cause were sown in the credit boom that peaked in mid-2007, followed by the meltdown of sub-prime mortgages and securitized products. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were both taken over by the government and on September 24, 2008, Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy after failing to find a buyer. The fall of Lehman Brothers rattled the global market and led to a great drop in the United States (U.S.) stock market the day after the announcement. The sudden failure of Lehman Brothers is widely viewed as a watershed moment in the global financial crisis of 2007 – 2009. With over $639 billion in assets and…show more content…
With the U.S. housing boom well under way, Lehman Brothers acquired five mortgage lenders; including subprime lender BNC Mortgage. BNC is ranked as one of the nation’s top 100 mortgage lenders and the eighth largest wholesale subprime lender (Mortgage info, 2007). BNC Mortgage, as the subsidiary of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. became the biggest underwriter of U.S. bonds backed by mortgages. As securitization of mortgages increased, the investment banks urged the mortgage lending industry to increase their loan volumes. However, on August 22, 2007, Lehman Brothers decided to close down its subprime-lending unit; BNC Mortgage, causing about 1,200 employees to lose their jobs (Onaran, 2007). Figure 2: The downfall of Lehman Brothers Until 2007, Lehman Brothers has generated a significant portion of its revenue through the issuance of mortgage-backed and asset-backed securities. Lehman Brothers had grown increasingly reliant on its fixed income trading and underwriting division which served as the primary engine for its strong growth throughout the first half of the decade as shown in Exhibit 1 (Stowell, 2010). When the collapse of the U.S. subprime mortgage industry started, it result in credit crisis and the mortgage default rates began to rise and the demand for these securities began to disappear. Lehman Brothers was left with billions of dollars of rapidly depreciating securities on its balance sheet,
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