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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ohio BWC Lost $56.4 Million In Lehman Bros. Investments: State Fund For Injured Workers Netted Two Pennies Per Dollar

BWC Report Shows Lehman Bros. Hit
CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The failure of Lehman Bros., the Wall Street investment bank that employed John Kasich, the GOP candidate for governor, was a financial calamity for the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.  Records dug up this week by The Daily Bellwether show BWC managed to recover just $1.54 million of $57.9 million invested in Lehman stock and bonds.  Kasich was a managing director at Lehman -- though he now tries to downplay his role at the bankrupt Wall Street firm.  A BWC investment committee report shows the Lehman holdings were liquidated two years ago as Wall Street collapsed in the worst financial mess since the Great Depression.  $10.5 million in Lehman stock was sold for $35,000.  That's right, $35,000.  $47.3 million in Lehman bonds was sold for $1.5 million.

 BWC also lost lesser amounts in AIG, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae -- in all $94.6 million vanished as the bubble burst.  The Oct. 14, 2008 investment committee report said:  "The bulk of these losses were attributable to holdings in four troubled prominent financial services organizations whose financial conditions deteriorated rapidly due to each firms large exposure to troubled and illiquid mortgage-related assets."

BWC is a state insurance pool that is funded by businesses in Ohio who pay premiums.  If BWC's investments earn money, the premiums remain stable, or drop.  If it loses money, they go up.  Wall Street's reckless practices hurt the fund, of this there is no doubt.  Here is what the investment committee reported:

"Lehman Brothers, a large investment banking firm, was force to file for bankruptcy protection on September 15 [2008] as sit incurred a liquidity crisis precipitated by a rapidly growing lack of investor and institutional counterparty confidence resulting from its weak and deteriorating mortgage and real estate portfolios."

Kasich has contended on the campaign trail this year that he was not a wheel at Lehman Bros.  Instead, he portrays himself as a minor cog.  But there are proxy records showing he was more of a Wall Street insider than he now lets on.  Kasich was on the board of Instinet, an electronic stock trading operation in Manhattan that was a major Wall Street player and helped pioneer 24-hour trading. Instinet was bought by the NASDAQ stock exchange in 2005. There is more about the history of Instinet here. The company's proxy discloses Kasich's responsibilities at Lehman Bros., which seem to be far more extensive than his current claim that he headed a tiny two-person office in suburban Columbus. From the Instinet proxy:

John Kasich. Mr. Kasich, age 52, has been a Managing Director in the Investment Banking Group at Lehman Brothers since January 2001, where he has responsibilities across a range of industry groups, including health care, power and utilities, technology, retail and financial institutions. Prior to joining Lehman Brothers, Mr. Kasich was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, from 1983 to 2000, and served as Chairman of the House Budget Committee from 1995 to 2000. Prior to serving in the U.S. Congress, Mr. Kasich was an Ohio State Senator for four years. Mr. Kasich also currently serves as a director of Invacare Corporation and Worthington Industries, Inc., and is the host of the program “Heartland with John Kasich” on the Fox News Channel. Mr. Kasich is a graduate of the Ohio State University. Mr. Kasich has been a director of Instinet since June 2001.


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