Bestselling Author Lawrence McDonald on A Colossal Failure of Common Sense

2009 Kaufman Lecture/Symposia Series

Thursday, November 19, 2009 | 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM

Lawrence McDonald, a leading international financial lecturer, will speak on his bestselling book, A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers.

One of the biggest questions of the financial crisis has not been answered until now. What happened at Lehman Brothers and why was it allowed to fail, with aftershocks that rocked the global economy? In his news-making, often astonishing book, former Lehman Brothers Vice President Lawrence McDonald gives us the straight answers. In A Colossal Failure of Common Sense, McDonald reveals the culture and unspoken rules of the game like no book has ever done. The book is couched in the very human story of McDonald's rise from a Massachusetts retail brokerage firm to the New York headquarters of Lehman Brothers, home to one of the toughest trading floors on earth.

We get a close-up view of the participants in the Lehman collapse, especially those who saw it coming with a helpless, angry certainty. We meet the Brahmins at the top, whose reckless, pedal-to-the-floor addiction to growth finally demolished the nation's oldest investment bank. The Wall Street we encounter is a ruthless place, where brilliance, arrogance, greed and all the human traits combine in a potent mix that often fuels prosperity but sometimes destroys it.

The full significance of the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers remains to be measured. But this much is certain: it was a devastating blow to America's - and the world's - financial system. And it need not have happened. This is the story of why it did.

Presentation followed by book signing and reception. Reservations required. Admission is free for students and Museum members, or $15 for non-members. For additional information, please contact Lindsay Seeger at 212-908-4110 or