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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

March 12, 2010 at 9:35 AM

Lehman did in Lehman, but that’s not the end of the story; Seattle lagging on venture map

The headlines today out of the examiner’s report into the collapse of venerable Lehman Brothers will point to an inside job. The company and its top executives, so well compensated for their incomparable management prowess, engaged in “materially misleading” accounting tricks to hide Lehman’s troubles. Read deeper and the usual suspects are also mentioned, including the mortgage Ponzi scheme and rivals holding back needed loans.

It will be left to those paying attention to recall that most of Lehman’s peers were doing many of the same things — but Lehman was left standing when the Treasury stopped the game of musical chairs and allowed the investment bank to fail, thus setting off the Great Panic. Nor does the report really get to the heart of the matter: How regulators failed to regulate.

Meanwhile comes news of an exciting new way that the capital markets can avoid investing in productive economic activity that actually creates jobs: a futures, er, market where investors can bet on the likely success or failure of new movies. But we’ve seen this picture before and know how it ends.

The Back Story: In the This is Not Good Dept., here’s a map of the 50 top venture-backed companies as ranked by the Wall Street Journal. Not one is in Seattle. We seem to keep losing companies, the latest being the sale of InfrastruX to a Houston outfit.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Retail shrugs off snow

Good news or bad, if you give

Consumers credit?

Comments | More in Bailout, Banking

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