The business media's nauseating nostalgia for the financial crisis

What crazy adventures we had when we were young and the world economy was about to collapse!

A demonstrator outside Lehman Brothers headquarters.
(Image credit: Illustrated | AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The 10th anniversary of the financial crisis has arrived with the predictable, month-long blizzard of retrospectives and commemorations in the business media. These segments have dutifully checked off all the main issues financial journalists imagine the public expects them to cover: the run-up to the crisis, the transition from the collapse of Lehman Brothers to the passage of TARP, low interest rates and their enduring impact on the global economy, the crisis' political legacy, whether we're any safer today, and so on. There's been a plodding aspect to much of this coverage, but fortunately the doyens of financial news have not left viewers to starve on a grim diet of discussions about the rehypothecation of collateral. With the boring stuff out of the way, the financial media has knuckled down to the real business of this 10-year anniversary extravaganza: the reunion tour.

This nauseating display was most conspicuous around the anniversary of Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy earlier this month. That weekend, CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox Business, and the big press outlets ran extensive interviews with all the major players of the crisis. Each one boiled down to the same question: Where were you when Lehman went down? Hence we learned that JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon was having dinner with his soon-to-be-son-in-law's parents when the news of Lehman's imminent collapse came through. Warren Buffett was at a charity concert in Canada, setting the scene for a hilarious mix-up with a fax machine that ended with him not buying Lehman Brothers. Bob Diamond was struggling to master voicemail. Reporters over at The New York Times recalled the dinners of Lehman weekend: steak at Bobby Van's on 50th Street for Eric Dash, pizza for Andrew Ross Sorkin. On and on it went. Even the Bank of England got in on the act, pushing out a quick vid featuring the Lehman weekend stories of a bunch of nameless staffers ("I was cycling with my family in Richmond Park," "I was actually on a canal boat in Essex") that did impressively bad traffic on YouTube. With the help of the media, players big and small have all had their chance to help recast the gravest economic slump of our time into a gentle comedy of manners involving canceled dinner plans and a handful of mild technological misunderstandings.

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Aaron Timms is a Brooklyn-based writer. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Outline, The Daily Beast, and The Los Angeles Review of Books.