On Tuesday, February 19, Bard College will host a talk and discussion with Salim B. “Sandy” Lewis, a Wall Street leader, founder of his firm, who now, with his wife, is the owner and operator of Lewis Family Farm in Essex, New York, a beef farm with a unique USDA certificate in grass. Lewis will explore “Why Fixing Wall Street and the Economy is Critical to the World” in a discussion with Matt Taibbi ’92, the renowned political and financial columnist for Rolling Stone. The discussion will be moderated by Roger Berkowitz, academic director of the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard. Following the talk, Lewis will take questions. The event is cosponsored by the Arendt Center, Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, Bard Center for Environmental Policy, Bard MBA in Sustainability, Trustee Leader Scholar Program, Center for Civic Engagement, Bard College Farm, and the Economics and Political Studies Programs. The event is free and open to the public and takes place at 7 p.m. in room 103 of the Reem-Kayden Science Building on Bard’s campus.
With his wife of 52 years, Sandy Lewis, 74, runs Lewis Family Farm, the only USDA-certified grass-fed organic farm in the nation; the farm is cow/calf. As such, Lewis breeds, raises, and markets organic, grass-fed beef. For decades, Lewis was a successful block trader, arbitrageur, investment banker, and consultant, influential on Wall Street and in Washington. He was known for his work with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He was fired by some of Wall Street’s most reputable firms: Salomon Brothers & Hutzler, White Weld & Company, Dean Witter & Company (for appearing on the McGovern national letterhead, no less), and from Merrill Lynch for defying his CEO at the White House and SEC. From his own firm, he initiated and negotiated the merger between American Express and Shearson Loeb Rhoades, as covered in The Year They Sold Wall Street (Houghton Mifflin, ed. Nan Talese). In 1977, he was consultant to the SEC and helped the chairman run the market structure hearings of that year. In 1980, he founded S B Lewis and Company, a general and limited partnership and member of the NYSE, which had meteoric returns for 10 years and established Lewis as one of Wall Street’s most brilliant investors.
All the while, he continued to call for transparency on Wall Street and spoke against corruption. In 1989, Lewis pleaded guilty to three criminal counts and was barred from Wall Street for life. President Clinton pardoned Lewis on his last day in office, the only time in history a Wall Street figure has been pardoned by a president. In 2006, the SEC vacated Lewis’s lifetime ban in its entirety, another unique action, after a related injunction was vacated by U.S. District Judge William C. Conner, who had placed it at the SEC’s request in 1990. Conner described Lewis’s actions as “market vigilantism in which Lewis in no way personally profited,” and wrote, in his decision, that “federal regulations now outlaw the very practice that his actions were designed to thwart.”
Lewis has written for the New York Times, Bloomberg News, and other leading publications, and has worked with journalists since 1970 to shine a light on practices he will discuss at Bard. Today, he argues that our financial system needs an overhaul. From banking fraud to grass-fed beef, from market structure to the care of the most emotionally disturbed children, Sandy Lewis will speak from his heart and with candor. From age 10 to 16 Lewis was with Bruno Bettelheim at The Orthogenic School of The University of Chicago, where he worked for a year after his stay. Bettelheim was known for his work with the most disturbed. Lewis is an expert in teen addiction and founded the nation’s most successful treatment center in Mendham, New Jersey. Lewis speaks with authority and force.
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Featured image by Fred Conrad for the New York Times