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Lehman Failed Lending to Itself in Alchemy Eluding Dodd-Frank

By the time Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. became the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history, plunging the economy into the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, the firm had made $3 billion in loans to itself in transactions that even today would elude the Dodd-Frank law designed to prevent such financial alchemy.

Lehman turned souring real estate investments into top-rated securities that the bank’s insiders dubbed “goat poo,” according to court records. The securities, called Fenway commercial paper, helped keep Lehman afloat over the summer of 2008, until a trading partner determined they were “worth practically nothing.” That precipitated Lehman’s demise on Sept. 15, 2008, bankruptcy documents and a May 2010 Lehman lawsuit show.