Former Lehman chief blames crisis on 'perfect storm'

Lehman Brothers former Chairman and CEO Richard Fuld testifies before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission about the roots and causes of the 2008 financial and banking meltdown in U.S. and worldwide markets on September 1, 2010 in Washington, DC (AFP Photo/Chip Somodevilla)

New York (AFP) - In his first public appearance since 2008, former Lehman Brothers chief Richard Fuld Thursday blamed the financial crisis on a "perfect storm" of factors.

Fuld, who has kept a low profile since his firm's failure in September 2008 helped set off the biggest financial firestorm since 1929, said at an investment conference that the crisis was the result "not just of one single thing."

"It's all these things taken together," he said, adding that government policies designed to boost home ownership had unintended consequences, such as swelling home prices that led many families to take on too much debt.

Fuld said Lehman's demise was a "mandated bankruptcy" and that Lehman "was not a bankrupt company."

At the same time, Fuld suggested he also bore some responsibility for his firm's fate.

"Did we fall prey to some other agendas?" he asked. "I'll leave it at that."

Fuld at times waxed nostalgic, as when he recounted Lehman growth into a powerhouse on Wall Street under the credo that "everything was about the client."

He expressed concern that growing income inequality was harming the "belly of America" and said he worries about everything from slowing Chinese growth to the emergence of the Islamic State group and the aggressiveness of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"None of these things are any individual surprise, but taken together, they're fraying the fabric of our system," he said.

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