Understanding Lehman

The Lehman Trilogy is a play being performed at the National Theatre in London and broadcast to cinemas around the country. It is the English-language adaptation of an Italian play charting the history of Lehman Brothers from their arrival in America to the world’s biggest bankruptcy. It is brilliantly performed by three actors with a piano accompaniment throughout.

From a very small fabric shop in Alabama to a major global financial institution, the 174-year story is innovatively told in a rotating glass box, recounting how they adapt and survive calamities and catastrophes (plantation fire, civil war, world war, Great Depression) by exploiting those very catastrophes. However the word “risk” is only mentioned once, and then only when one of the family (Herbert) is ousted from the Board for being too risk averse (he becomes governor of New York state and later senator).

But risk is there in the background to it all. And by 2008, they had lost their understanding of risk or more likely, their ability to manage/exploit it, but by then the Lehmans themselves were long gone, too.

Data Source: National Theatre – The Lehman Trilogy

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