Morgan Stanley’s Mack speaks about survival

Oct 23, 2009

My Fortune colleague Carol Loomis passed on this YouTube video of a talk that Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack delivered last week at Wharton. It's a remarkably candid play-by-play of living through the global economic meltdown.

Mack talks about being pushed by Tim Geithner, then head of the New York Fed, to do a deal with JPMorgan Chase or Citigroup or another partner that might stabilize the teetering firm and, with it, the cratering financial system.

Mack refused to be told what to do. As he says in the video, "Stand up for what you believe in. Do what you think is right. Be prepared to suffer the consequences. But don't be pushed around when you know in your heart of hearts it's the wrong thing to do." He and Morgan Stanley survived by lining up a $9 billion investment from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. And Morgan Stanley turned out to be one of two survivors, along with Goldman Sachs , among the Wall Street giants.

Carol doesn't mind--and I hope Mack doesn't either--my sharing an email that she wrote to him this afternoon...and his prompt reply:

Loomis: I just watched your Wharton talk on YouTube. This is one of the best 26 minutes I have ever spent. I predict you will soon have more hits on
YouTube than Susan Boyle.

Mack: Carol, Thanks, but I would prefer to listen to Susan Boyle. John

P.S. Click here to see the video and read about Mack's "Inside the Bunker" talk on Wharton's website.

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