The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
retraced the government's steps in the wake of the financial crisis and concluded provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act could have lessened the blow from the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers
The investment bank, which was heavily tied to risky mortgage-backed securities, collapsed in 2008, rocking global financial markets for months.
Sheila Bair, head of the FDIC, released a report Monday, saying an orderly liquidation of the bank under guidelines now in effect after the passage of Dodd-Frank could have prevented the shock of a full-blown Lehman's bankruptcy by allowing the FDIC to sell the bank's valuable assets at no cost to taxpayers.
The FDIC report "estimates that given the substantial, though declining, equity and subordinated debt of Lehman in September 2008 and the power for the FDIC to implement a prompt structured sale while providing short-term liquidity to continue value-adding operations, general unsecured creditors could have recovered 97 cents on every $1 of claims, compared to the estimated 21 cents on claims estimated in the most recent bankruptcy plan of reorganization."
The FDIC said a quick liquidation of Lehman Brothers would have been difficult, but far superior to the shock that eventually hit creditors, taxpayers and the overall financial system.
"The Lehman failure provides an excellent model to contrast the tools available to the FDIC to effectuate an orderly resolution of a large financial institution against the process used in bankruptcy which, unlike our process, is not specifically designed to deal with the failure of a financial entity," Bair said Monday.
Christopher Whalen, co-founder of Institutional Risk Analytics
, said the bankruptcy was handled as best it could have been at the time.
"The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers was not a failure at all," he said. Instead, Harvey Miller, the bankruptcy attorney for Lehman Brothers "and the good people of the Southern District of New York did a superb job, as did the other professionals. Dodd Frank would certainly have made the process easier in some respects, but the reality is that we do not know how a resolution would be handled."
Write to Kerri Panchuk.