Was the Lehman Collapse More Significant Than 9/11?

As even casual observers of the financial press no doubt have realized, the second anniversary of the demise of Lehman Brothers arrives tomorrow. And the two years that now stand between that systemically terrifying event have done almost nothing to diminish the significance of the investment bank’s implosion in the eyes of market pundits. Witness this charming little gem, titled “Why 9/15 Changed More Than 9/11.”

The article, penned by Gideon Rachman for the Financial Times, contends that history will come to assign far more importance to Lehman’s financial collapse than it will to the literal one suffered by the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001. Rachman says that Lehman, and not 9/11, marked the end of the U.S. unipolar moment, both in terms of economics and geopolitics. The idea is basically that whereas Lehman marked the initial decline of U.S. global power against a clearly more robust Asia, it’s hard to imagine that fundamentalist terrorists will eventually trump America in heft and prominence.

Anyway, today, when it’s glaringly obvious that the most famous 9/11 location still feels like a national wound, it’s hard to imagine that anything could prove more significant than the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. Right now it seems offensive to weigh these tragedies against one another, but they do have one thing in common. Their anniversaries both seem to come earlier every year. Was the Lehman Collapse More Significant Than 9/11?