Rebuilding lives, 10 years after Lehman's fall

LONDON, Sept 11 (Reuters) - It is an image that became a symbol of the global financial crisis -- about 20 bankers, their backs turned to the window, attending an emergency meeting at the London office of Lehman Brothers as the firm slid towards collapse.

Gwion Moore, one of those pictured in the Reuters photograph taken on Sept. 11, 2008, recalled how the growing sense of panic in financial markets contrasted with the mood inside the building at the time.

"It was almost a festival atmosphere at the bank. We weren't doing any business. But people were still coming to work and just chatting to each other," Moore said.

The photograph caught the moment when he and his colleagues were being told by bosses that things were going to be OK, despite the plummeting Lehman Brothers share price.

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Rebuilding lives, 10 years after Lehman's fall
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Rebuilding lives, 10 years after Lehman's fall
Bankers attend an emergency meeting at the London office of Lehman Brothers, in the financial district of Canary Wharf in London, Britain, September 11, 2008. The photograph caught the moment when Gwion Moore, one of those pictured in the photograph, and his colleagues were being told by bosses that things were going to be OK, despite the plummeting Lehman Brothers share price. "Senior management thought they needed to get the workforce focused again," Moore said. "The phrase was stop 'goofing around and get back to work'. I don't think anyone took the message very seriously because we went back to doing what we had been doing beforehand. No one was going to trade with us." REUTERS/Kevin Coombs/File photo SEARCH "LEHMAN 10" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Former UK finance minister (Chancellor of the Exchequer), Alistair Darling, poses for a photograph in Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain, Aug 31, 2018. Darling was in charge of the British economy as the financial crisis escalated. Now a member of the upper house of parliament, he says the decision by the Conservative-led government in 2010 to try to wipe the country's budget deficit in five years extended the slowdown in the economy. "What is commonly called austerity has prolonged the downturn. It has taken far, far longer to see a recovery and of course the process is by no means complete," he said. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne SEARCH "LEHMAN 10" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Tsutomu Fukasawa, a dealer, takes a rest at a yen trading room in Tokyo, Japan, October 10, 2008. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao/File photo SEARCH "LEHMAN 10" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Former Lehman Brothers employee Gwion Moore poses for a portrait in central Sydney, Australia, September 11, 2018. Moore is one of those pictured in the Reuters photograph on Sept. 11, 2008, which became a symbol of the global financial crisis - 20 bankers attending an emergency meeting at the London office of Lehman Brothers, their backs turned to the window as the firm slid into collapse. He recalled the contrast between the growing sense of panic in financial markets over the fate of the stricken firm with the mood inside the building at the time. "It was almost a festival atmosphere at the bank. We weren't doing any business. But people were still coming to work and just chatting to each other," Moore said. He now works in his native Australia. REUTERS/David Gray SEARCH "LEHMAN 10" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Maria Isabel Rodriguez Romero, 48, lowers the shutters so her father Efren Rodriguez Gonzalez, 74, can sleep in the living room of the home where they are squatting in a village in the province of Toledo, central Spain, August 8, 2018. The family lost their home in a rent-controlled apartment in Madrid after falling behind with payments. "We are squatting because we can't afford to rent. We are being asked for deposits of more than 1,000 euros and we don't have that kind of money saved," Rodriguez said. REUTERS/Susana Vera SEARCH "LEHMAN 10" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Hikaru Aizawa, a Japanese businessman who formerly entertained female customers as a host in a club in Tokyo's red light district, poses for a photograph at one of his offices in Tokyo, Japan, August 18, 2018. "After the Lehman crash, the first thing people did was to stop spending money in the red-light district," said Aizawa. He has three clubs of his own and employs more than 70 men to staff them. Aizawa also set up two other business ventures unrelated to his clubs. REUTERS/Toru Hanai SEARCH "LEHMAN 10" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Eric Lipps, 52, waits in line to enter the NYCHires Job Fair in New York, United States, December 9, 2009. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File photo SEARCH "LEHMAN 10" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Alistair Darling, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, leaves the Houses of Parliament after giving his pre-budget report, in London, Britain, December 9, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/File photo SEARCH "LEHMAN 10" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Tsutomu Fukasawa (R), a foreign exchange dealer, works with a colleague at Tokyo Forex & Ueda Harlow, almost 10 years on from the collapse of Lehman Brothers, in Tokyo, Japan, August 27, 2018. After the crisis, some of the firm's customers left the market. Now Fukasawa thinks Japan's economy is gradually recovering lost ground. "It seems to me that Japanese economy suffered a big hit. However it is slowly but surely catching up with the global financial market," he said. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon SEARCH "LEHMAN 10" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Jose Manuel Abel, 52, cleans a table in the restaurant where he works as a waiter in Chipiona, southern Spain, August 23, 2018. Abel bade farewell to his wife and children and left his native Spain in 2012 after losing his job. He spent six years in Germany doing low-paid work before returning home last year. He now has a temporary job as a waiter, working 17 hours a day, but he expects to be laid off once the summer tourists stop coming to Chipiona. "I'm working as a waiter and I don't have a problem with that because I think that any kind of job is respectable," Abel said. "I have studies, training and I intend to use them in the future." Abel is also working with friends to set up a local political party which will contest municipal elections in 2019. "I don't want my sons to suffer and live what I had to live through," he said. "I don't want to them to migrate and to look for a job opportunity away from this marvellous place." REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo SEARCH "LEHMAN 10" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Eric Lipps, 61, a U.S. public sector worker, poses for a photograph outside 4 World Trade Center nearly a decade after he was pictured in line at a jobs fair in New York, in New York, U.S., August 17, 2018. "Mercifully I had money so I wasn't going to be hand to mouth," Lipps said. "Still it was a little nervous time because I didn't know how long I was going to be unemployed." Lipps was hired a few months after losing his job as a child support enforcement officer in New York, a job he continues to hold. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton SEARCH "LEHMAN 10" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Hikaru Aizawa, who entertains female customers as a host in a club in Tokyo's red light district, poses for a photograph at his host club in Tokyo's Kabukicho nightlife district, Japan, June 25, 2009. REUTERS/Toru Hanai SEARCH "LEHMAN 10" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Maria Isabel Rodriguez Romero and her husband Benigno Ferrer (under white blanket) sleep next to their daughter Maria Isabel Ferrer Rodriguez, 8, (top L) outside the apartment where they were evicted from in Madrid, Spain, September 27, 2013. The family lost their home in a rent-controlled apartment in Madrid after falling behind with payments. REUTERS/Susana Vera/File photo ATTENTION EDITORS : SPANISH LAW REQUIRES THAT FACES OF MINORS ARE MASKED IN PUBLICATIONS WITHIN SPAIN SEARCH "LEHMAN 10" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Jose Manuel Abel, 46, smokes a cigarette as he waits to catch a flight to Munich at El Prat airport in Barcelona, Spain, June 29, 2012. Abel bade farewell to his wife and children and left his native Spain after losing his job. He moved to Germany to work in a Spanish restaurant. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo/File photo SEARCH "LEHMAN 10" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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"Senior management thought they needed to get the workforce focused again," Moore said. "The phrase was stop 'goofing around and get back to work'. I don’t think anyone took the message very seriously because we went back to doing what we had been doing beforehand. No one was going to trade with us."

Within four days, the U.S. government chose not to save the bank, intensifying the already widespread chaos in markets that brought the financial system to its knees and tipped the world economy into a deep recession.

Moore's department -- European fixed income -- was not among the parts of Lehman Brothers that were sold to other banks. Two weeks after the firm's collapse, his security card stopped working and he was laid off.

Moore spent six months unemployed before finding a job as a fund manager. He now works in his native Australia.

UNEMPLOYMENT

The crisis also shook up the life of Eric Lipps, a U.S. public sector worker, who appeared in another well-known Reuters photograph from the period.

In late 2009, he was pictured in a long line of people seeking to meet potential employers at a jobs fair in New York.

At the time, the U.S. unemployment rate had soared to 10 percent, its highest level since the early 1980s.

Lipps, wrapped up against the cold in a beige raincoat, looked directly into the camera, his face appearing to reflect the despondency of many people at the time.

"Mercifully I had money so I wasn't going to be hand-to-mouth," Lipps said. "Still it was a little nervous time because I didn't know how long I was going to be unemployed."

He was hired again a few months later as a child support enforcement officer in New York, a job he continues to hold.

Alistair Darling, who was Britain's finance minister 10 years ago, recalled how his warnings of a looming disaster for the economy, made shortly before the Lehman crash, had generated howls of protest from economists and fellow politicians.

"But I could see the rupture in the financial system was quite catastrophic," he said.

For Darling, now a Labour member of the upper house of Britain's parliament, the damage done by the crisis in Britain was all the greater for the decision taken in 2010 by the newly elected Conservative-led government to aim for the eradication of the country's budget deficit in only five years.

"What is commonly called austerity has prolonged the downturn. It has taken far, far longer to see a recovery and of course the process is by no means complete," he said.

EMIGRATION

Indeed, for many, the damage wrought by the near-meltdown in the world's financial system and the subsequent debt crisis in many European countries remains deep.

Jose Manuel Abel bade farewell to his wife and children and left his native Spain in 2012 after losing his job. He worked doing low-paid jobs in Germany before returning to Spain last year.

He now has a temporary job as a waiter, working 17 hours a day, but he expects to be laid off once the summer tourists stop coming to Chipiona, a coastal town near Cadiz on Spain's southern Atlantic Coast.

Unemployment in Spain peaked at nearly 27 percent in early 2013 before falling back to just over 15 percent in the second quarter of this year -- still much higher than in many other countries, even five years into an economic recovery.

"I'm working as a waiter and I don't have a problem with that because I think that any kind of job is respectable," Abel said. "I have studies, training and I intend to use them in the future."

He is also working with friends to set up a local political party which will contest municipal elections in 2019.

"I don't want my kids to suffer and live what I had to live through," Abel said. "I don't want to them to migrate and to look for a job opportunity away from this marvelous place."

(Reporting by William Schomberg in London, Shannon Stapleton in New York and Miguel Gutierrez Rosas in Chipiona, Spain; Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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