Dick Fuld's stern, grimacing mug made him the perfect fall-man for capitalist wrongdoing when his company, Lehman Brothers, imploded last fall. He was widely trashed for his role in the high-stakes leveraging of investment banks that precipitated the crisis.
A full year later, after the storm has died down somewhat, he's standing up for himself. In an interview with Reuters, he tells detractors to "line up" because "I can handle it." As economic tailwinds have picked up, so have Fuld's fortunes: while he still faces lawsuits and pranksters who want to pie him in restaurants, commentators are taking a kinder outlook, with many arguing he took too much blame for the crisis.
Does he deserve a second chance, or is it still too soon for forgiveness?
- CEOs Can't Admit Their Mistakes, says psychology professor Sam Sommers in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "People who have achieved a high level of success don't' get to that place by always admitting errors or bad judgment. It's hard to imagine that person who is always saying 'my bad' becomes CEO of Lehman Brothers."
- A Decent, Huggable Man, suggests Clare Baldwin, the reporter who tracked down Fuld in his Idaho retreat and described the hug he gave her as "warm." Interviewed about by the cheeky Daily Intel, she said "He just kind of threw his arm around me, and said something like, "I have daughters your age -- what are we going to do with you, Clare?" That was like a side hug.
- 'Setting Up Nicely for a Comeback,' predicts Joe Wiesenthal at Business Insider. "It's clear now that the crisis was way, way bigger than anything at Lehman, or actions that Dick Fuld took. Sure, in the beginning you might've called Fuld a villain, but at this point, come on! Lehman now seems like a minor storm within a tremendously more violent system."
- Not Likely to Win Back Former Employees, says David Schepp at Daily Finance. "Even former Lehman employees have expressed contempt for his cataclysmic reign at Lehman, suggesting that Fuld was aloof and rarely interacted with those outside the executive suite."