It was when he saw the headline in Forbes, "Pilgrim's Pride Chickens Out," about the travails of the poultry producer (symbol PPC on the NYSE), that Lehman knew he had to act.
"The weakening economy," he said slowly, "will be concentrated in the index of present conditions."
The statement spread like a rumor of sexual harassment.
Economists were divided as to the import of Lehman's words. Some saw in it an allusion to Isaac Bashevis Singer's story written from the point of view of chickens on their way to the slaughterhouse.
The official "mea culpa" line was mouthed by the vice president in charge of upward risk.
"We misread the spread between derivatives and underlying cash assets."
"Big of you to admit it, old chap."
"What's your system?"
"It may be counter-intuitive, but I am betting everything on black, even, and my wife's birthday."
Woud events vindicate the brothers Lehman? Or would the indifferent beak drop the terrified girl in a rush of white feathers?