The blame-it-on-Lehman story leads to a dangerous complacency. If we can persuade ourselves that the fault was just one policy mistake, forced on the feds by silly legal restrictions and not enough bailout power, everything can go back to the cozy way it was before.Cochrane and Zingales on the lessons of Lehman.
This is a convenient story for large banks that dominate the lobbying and communication effort. And it absolves the Fed and Treasury of facing up to their long string of policy mistakes.
We don't pretend that we could have done any better. That's the point: A system with so much power vested in so few people, with so few rules, in which crises are managed with 2 a.m. conference calls, cannot possibly do better no matter how good the people at the top. Repeating the Lehman story lets us all ignore the fact that this system cannot go on.