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ATLANTA — To help understand why the world is in the current financial crisis, it would help to define what the crisis really is.Leo Tilman, president of L.M. Tilman & Co., an advisory firm that serves governments, financial institutions, corporations and institutional investors, said macroeconomic, financial instruments, institutions and intellectual viewpoints have not addressed the cause of the crisis.“We need to illuminate the reality. It was risk taking by financial institutions,” said Tilman, who also teaches finance at Columbia University and is the author of Financial Darwinism. “Risk is always an afterthought. The problem was not recognizing making account earnings with the goal of managing risk.”Speaking at the recent NCUA Risk Mitigation Summit, he pointed to the collapse and restructures of several banking icons.“Why did Goldman [Sachs] survive and Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and Merrill did not? Goldman had risk overlay to protect itself from mortgage markets. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were sitting ducks.”Inherent financial risks remain unchanged over time, Tilman explained. In his talks with credit unions, he warned them about the dangers of having this “broken business model.” The problem is margins and fees are often their entire return, he said. If either declines, earnings decline.“Earnings are at the mercy of market environments,” Tilman said.–[email protected]

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