Lehman Bros: The Environmentalist Connection

If you go to the web site of the Alliance for Climate Protection, the group that is sponsoring the $300 million “We Can Solve It” ad campaign, you’ll find the second name on the list of board members is very interesting:

Theodore Roosevelt IV
Managing Director, Lehman Brothers
Chair of the Pew Center for Global Climate Change

Theodore Roosevelt IV is Managing Director at Lehman Brothers and a member of the Firm’s senior client coverage group, which oversees the Firms client and customer relationships. Mr. Roosevelt is an active conservationist. He is Chair of the Pew Center for Global Climate Change, Vice Chair of the Wilderness Society, and a Trustee for the American Museum of Natural History, The World Resources Institute, the Institute for Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming, and a Trustee of Trout Unlimited.

That’s quite the environmentalist resume, isn’t it? We should also note that Lehman Bros issued a couple of reports on “The Business of Climate Change,” which are rent-seeker’s guides to making money off global warming regulation. If this sounds familiar, it’s the path down which Enron trod.

These reports were enthusiastically greeted by the environmental lobby. They were advised by James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies and chief scientific adviser to Al Gore.

Now, I am not saying that Lehman Bros fell because its MD was an enthusiastic environmentalist. It failed because of risky decisions made in the mortgage market. However, its failure – like Enron’s before it – demonstrates that attempting to trade in artificial assets that represent no real value is a supremely risky business. Carbon trading would be just such a risk, dependent as it is on fickle government action. Lehman Bros’ collapse should make Wall Street, utilities and investors equally wary of lobbying for such a market.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if Mr Roosevelt’s name disappears from the boards of the environmentalist organizations as quickly as Ken Lay’s did following the Enron collapse. Of course, Mr Roosevelt is not facing any criminal charges as far as I can make out and he does have a rather spiffy name (who says America has no aristocracy?) so it is quite possible that he will find a happy home heading up an environmental group. After all, his management skills would be just what they need.

Hat-tip: EU Referendum and Icecap