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I have chosen banking and the Lehman Brothers financial crisis as my topic.  Lehman Brothers had been around for over 150 years as a goods store first, then growing into a major global financial services firm before the 2008 financial crisis.  They were a global powerhouse and deemed by many too big too fail, until they actually did fail and changed everything in the global financial industry.  The Lehman Brothers started by giving out subprime loans to people with bad debt. These loans started with low introductory rates that then later ballooned into larger, unaffordable rates, which is where the ethical problem lies.  This all took place in the early 2000s when the American housing boom was already going.  Lehman was able to prey on people with bad credit with the low introductory interest rates that the thriving housing economy had afforded them. In 2008 when Lehman was about to go bankrupt, they went to the federal government hopeful for a bailout.  However, Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson declined on the basis that “the banks would take responsibility for their recklessness.” (Fieser, J.) 

In this case, I’m using the ethical theory of utilitarianism to argue for the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and for Henry Paulson’s decision of not lending a bailout.  Utilitarianism is always for the good of everyone and can even allow a little evil here and there, as long as happiness prospers in the end, “the problem is that sometimes a recognizably evil course of action will produce the greatest amount of happiness.”(Fieser, J.) With the Lehman Brothers, they got greedy trying to profit too early off of their subprime loans.  While they were producing happiness for people in the short term, they were well aware that problems would arise long term and jeopardize happiness.  The Lehman Brothers also expected a bailout from the US government, as did everyone else proclaiming that they were too big too fail.  The actions of Lehman Brothers led to their bankruptcy, which was the beginning of the financial crisis of 2008 and led to many financial disasters.
 Fieser, J. (2015). Introduction to Business Ethics [Electronic version]. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/ 7.1 and 1.3
Cochrane, J. H. (2009). Lessons from the financial crisis. Regulations, 32(4), 34-37. Retrieved from http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/regulation/2009/11/v32n4-6.pdf

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