The firm is now a company with a sole mission of selling itself until there is nothing left -- like that Pink Floyd concert in 1970s where the encore consisted of a simple blues jam and technicians hauling away the equipment one piece at a time. When the lights, instruments and speakers were all packed away and there was nothing left on stage but a guitarist with a small amplifier and a drummer with a snare drum, the show was over.
Lehman Brothers has about $25 billion in assets to liquidate, mostly equities, and real estate, some corporate loans and derivatives, and some lawsuits to settle. When it gets down to a lawyer with a nameplate and an accountant with a pencil and a pad of paper, the show will be over. Good-bye Lehman Brothers.
Meanwhile, stocks put in their biggest slide of the year Tuesday. After closing recently above 13,000 for the first time since May 2008, the Dow Jones industrial average gave up 203.66 points or 1.57 percent, to 12,759.15.
The S&P 500 index dropped 1.54 percent to 1,343.36. On Feb. 29, the Nasdaq composite index breached 3,000 for the first time since in 12 years. It is now back down to 2,910.32. That 3,000 mark looks far away.
Some analysts had figured the recent run up was soft. There has been mixed data on the U.S. side of the Atlantic and very poor data in Europe, where the 17-member eurozone posted a 0.3 percent economic decline in October through December.
China said Monday it expected its gross domestic product to increase 7.5 percent this year, down from an earlier forecast of 8 percent. The new target, if it is accurate, would represent China's lowest growth rate in 22 years.
Greece, in recession for its fourth consecutive year, warned private bondholders Tuesday that the government "does not contemplate the availability of funds," for those who do not participate in a debt swap.
Greece needs 95 percent of its bondholders to participate in the swap to qualify for the $170 billion loan package assembled by the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Someday, Greece is going to have to learn how to put two positive-sounding headlines together in a row. Then three -- but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Greece, heading into its fourth year of recession, has been taking one step forward and two back for quite some time.
No wonder this rally was considered soft. For one, brief shining moment, as it were.
In international markets, the Nikkei 225 index in Japan dropped 0.64 percent, while the Shanghai composite index in China fell 0.65 percent. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong dropped 0.86 percent, while the Sensex in India shed 0.16 percent.
The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia lost 1.45 percent.
In midday trading in Europe, the FTSE 100 index in Britain was higher, up 0.49 percent, while the DAX 30 in Germany rose 1.23 percent. The CAC 40 in France climbed 0.88 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.67 percent.
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