The Empire of Sand

stock-exchange– Story of the Rise and Fall of a Hedge Fund Empire

On the Wednesday afternoon of September 23rd, 1998, New York, inside a formidable Florentine Renaissance building with its sharp straight edges and rusticated finishing, a group of well-suited men gathered in the early hours of the morning. These were no ordinary men; they count amongst themselves the most powerful people in the United States, whose collective wealth would make paupers of any third-world country. It was the first time in history where these men all gathered under one roof, the gravity of the situation could not be underestimated. The goal, collective co-operation out of a mess that could potentially destroy their life’s work, as well as bringing about a prolonged misery to their nation and beyond. You could be forgiven to imagine a scene straight out of the Godfather, but this gang of influential men were not the cigar chomping Italian gangsters that dominated the landscape of New York decades ago, they are the new breed of power, not gangsters, banksters.

Around the table were top executives and decision makers of every Wall Street bank. Majority of them have retired comfortably by the time you read this, yet their names continue to resonate in the hearts of financiers, imbedded in the legends of the financial fantasy. Jon Corzine of Goldman Sachs was present, so was James Cayne of Bear Stearns, Komansky of Merrill Lynch, Deryck Maughan of Salomon Smith Barney, Allen Wheat of Credit Suisse to name a few. Also at the meeting were representatives from the Federal Reserve, the Central Bank of US, and an authoritarian steward of the world’s economy. Despite the statuses of the attendees, the meeting was hastily arranged, and conducted under degrees of secrecy. Continue reading