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September 16th, 2009
10:09 AM ET

Banks Gone Bust: Life after Lehman

Imagine you've gone to school for years, your only goal to break into the world of finance. And it happens. You get an interview and land the job of your dreams.

Then your company goes bust and markets across the globe tank. That's exactly what happened for some of the youngest workers at these "Banks Gone Bust." CNN's Christine Romans report.

One year ago, a whole crop of young investment bankers and analysts packed their boxes and left their dreams of big Wall Street careers behind them.

Avi Yashchin, who had spent long hours trading credit default swaps for Lehman Brothers, says he initially felt lost.

“I immediately started calling my friends trying to find out what the next big thing is. And everyone said the same thing – ‘green.’ You have to get into the green industry.”

Yashchin founded CleanEdison, a company that provides training and education to help people find opportunities in the new green economy.

Mimi Connery found an unusual opportunity when she teamed up with the lead singer Stephan Jenkins of the rock band Third Eye Blind. The former Lehman Brothers analyst is now the director of True Meaning, a nonprofit organization working to educate the public about tools designed to combat worldwide poverty.

“The whole financial collapse kind of gave me a ‘get out of jail free’ card to do what I want to do. ... When you go to work you should actually be passionate about what you’re doing.”

Her bonus at this job: Connery gets to go on tour with the band.

Ryan Stroker, a former Merrill Lynch subprime mortgage trader, says the past year has given him perspective.

“The golden handcuffs existed because people weren’t stepping back and looking at what they could do with less money and more time.”

Stroker’s new business venture updates a classic. He has relaunched a colorful line of BluBlocker sunglasses. These days he’s banking on a sunny future.

Filed under: Banks Gone Bust • Business
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. bjflanders

    wall street should and must made to paid. they played the game and lost. paying out big bucks the the big boys,is a no no.
    they should be out looking for a job. how do you keep a boss on that cause you to lose money and have the US public to pay you to operate.
    any company that has this happen,should and must be fired.
    the US goverment should send in the good guys to make the company profitable. and pay back all moneys.
    after that,we back out and let the go on their on.
    also, the goverment should look at what happened and maybe look at jailing them.

    October 29, 2009 at 8:57 am |
  2. bob bechtel

    We need to let all the banks o bust and start over .We did not want to BAILOUT wallstreet and the banks. 90% of americans said no to bail outs but washington said yes against our wishes thay just looked out for them selves . LET WALLSTREET AND BANKS AND WASHINGTON FALL

    October 28, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  3. Marcus

    Cool blog you got here. It would be great to read a bit more concerning this matter.

    October 21, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  4. Robert

    Of course these people should have a hard time getting's par for the course. Their fellow speculators caused this to happen...somebody has to suffer...

    October 14, 2009 at 7:02 am |
  5. DH

    What I find amazing is how these people are so well educated on finance, prior to working for these shyster firms. Then, they sell this fraudulent & toxic paper without even knowing or caring about how they themselves are DESTROYING and DEFRAUDING the system and how they're ruining innocent lives. It serves them right for being dumped and their firms going belly up.

    If you STEAL... then you'll PAY when you either get caught or ruin the very system that you're stealing from. No one should feel sorry for these people, even if they have little-to-no experience.

    Oh, BTW, stealing (via complex & fraudulent financial contracts that are reminiscent of Market-to-Model, i.e. a cartoon) is still WRONG!

    These people should be in jail.

    October 5, 2009 at 4:12 am |
  6. Fred Nielsen

    Just an observation, Canada never had one bank failure & our housing market did not collapse.
    We have Goverment regulations that stop the kind of shenanigans that happened with the American banks & morgage system. Sometimes regulations are a good thing.
    Also the TSE our main stock exchange is only off by 7% from the period before the collapse. We have hard hit areas in Canada mostly due to the Automobile & Oil industry as well as a slow down in construction.
    Why everyone is so afraid of regulations is beyond me, the greedy at the top of the manure pile need to be held in check.
    Regulations do not make me a Socialist, they just help to protect me from the greediest. I think it is good to have some regulations.
    A Canadian that doesn't mind Goverment interference....Fred

    September 27, 2009 at 8:37 pm |
  7. Dan Browdy

    DRA hit right on the head. Now there are some good students that work hard and make a career out of college and become MBÁ's and Doctors and so on. The problem is the sub-prime market created a conduit on wall street, which produced mortgaged back securities. The Brokers charged ridiculous rates and ARMS with option ARMS. They though as usual they could have the world and it wouldnt bite back. In a Bull Market you dont think of the red zone, you think of the green zone. People act on emotion not common sense. I and you were taught that if people act out of the box ( spend out of your limits, one day when you need the money it wont be there) mentality you will pay huge for it. Right now it is survival of the fittest unfortunately a price to pay for frivalous ways. I just hope in the long run people learn from this crisis.

    September 23, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  8. Mike Armstrong TX.

    You bet your tea party that wall street is responsible for the crash and it started with the oil companys robbing the american people blind I told my family members that when they started raising fuel to unbelievable hights they was going to bring this country to its knees and kill off the auto industrys and i was right and food is still being over priced because of fuel it was suppose to have went back down when fuel did .

    September 22, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  9. cwconne

    Alex P Keeton, it should be fairly obvious, even to you, that America's economy hinges upon its financial sector. Despite the sector's recent failure, it has traditionally uplifted America's GDP growth rate. Through this sector, corporations have been able to gain otherwise unattainable funding and create a plethora of successful mergers.

    So no, it doesn't make sense to applaud our previous economic success and high standard of living, while despising these professionals. After all, they are being compensated for their choice to pursue higher education and their dedication to this industry (often running 6 day weeks and 18 hour days).

    September 16, 2009 at 2:47 pm |
  10. alex p keeton

    Try going into a field that is not all about greed! Waaa, I cant get a job ripping off America...waaa

    September 16, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  11. DRA

    I have ALWAYS been a big supporter of higher education. However, let's take a good hard look at what we are producing at these institutions of higher learning (Community Colleges and Universities) and within the confines of those walls we can see why Wall Street and the Banking industry is having a difficult time. You see, when you cheat in class, that's just the beginning of the idea that you can "cheat your way through life" and in the real world, it just does not work that way. Let's begin to focus on honesty and integrity in the classroom and we can avoid the pitfalls of failing banks and financial institutions in the future. Most cases of failure are a direct result of dishonesty and greed.......let's face FACTS !

    September 16, 2009 at 12:52 pm |