MF Global Holdings (NYSE:MF) is not long for this world. The financial company’s shares were frozen from trading Monday on news that big losses on risky debt investments had sunk the investment bank and forced it into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Despite a $3 billion IPO, despite a storied pedigree with U.K. hedge fund manager Man Group plc, and despite the politically connected former Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) exec at the helm, the financial firm just couldn’t cut it.
But the real lesson of MF Global is we have so many lessons left to learn when it comes to the risk in the financial sector these days.
Even after the worst banking crisis since the Great Depression and the stark reality of risk taking, MF Global couldn’t control itself. And even after the “smart money” got burned with a roughly 40% market decline in 2008 and a choppy market to start 2011, MF Global leaves some of the biggest investment names on Wall Street to clean up its mess. According to columnist David Weidner’s tally, as of Oct. 30, Fidelity Investments parent FMR Corp. owned more than 8% of MF, with other insurance, pension and financial firms making up a big chunk of the rest of the company.
MF Global is not just a story about yet another financial firm that can’t cut it. This justifiably can be called one of the most difficult times on Wall Street in many of our lifetimes. A host of political and macroeconomic issues compete for investor attention, while at the same time triple-digit moves in the Dow based wholly on sentiment seem to be the order of the day.
No, the real story of this defunct financial stock is that there are so many more lessons that investors, regulators and bank CEOs must learn.
Here are a few pointers — some obvious, and some not: