Just three years ago Lawrence McDonald found himself at the epicenter of a global financial crisis. As vice president of distressed debt and convertible securities at Lehman Brothers Holdings, he was on hand during the collapse of the firm, its markets and the global economy. McDonald out of work and reeling from the loss of much personal wealth tied to the firm turned to writing. The result was A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers. Hes now president of asset manager LGM Group and senior director of corporate credit sales at Newedge, the brokerage formed by Société Générale and Crédit Agricole.
McDonald, 46, sees more than a few similarities between the summer of 08, just before the collapse of Lehman, and the current economic and financial environment. He spoke with Institutional Investor Contributing Writer Steve Rosenbush about those similarities and why this time the situation is even more serious. Here are highlights of their conversations.
Institutional Investor: Why do todays financial markets remind you of the situation in the summer of 2008?
McDonald: The situation that we now face is very similar to the summer of 08, very similar to the early stages of the credit crisis, before Lehman. Banks are just not lending to one another. There are many disturbing indicators. The Euribor-OIS spread, a measure of banks willingness to lend to one another, was just a few basis points from 2003 to 2007. Now it has widened to levels last seen during the credit crisis 80 or more basis points. That is just crazy. That is huge.....