What Does the Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy Mean for Kansans?

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It's a financial freefall sparking fears that your money could be on the line. Two pillars of Wall Street tumbled over the weekend, sending the DOW tumbling more than 500 points Monday.

Lehman Brothers - with 25,000 employees and nearly $50 billion in mortgage related losses - will be liquidated.

Merrill Lynch - fearing it would be next - joined forces with Bank of America.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is offering reassurance. "The American people can remain confident in the soundness and resilience of their financial system."

The Federal Reserve meets Tuesday it was expected to sit tight on interest rates but could now hand down another cut.

The big question for many people, is your money safe?

Jim Hanna, Ameriprise Financial personal adviser, says that you will see adverse effects short term. But the bottom line is to stay focused on a bigger financial picture and use the Lehman Brother's failure as a wakeup call to check your personal financial plan.

The fear has spread from Wall Street across the nation.

Rick Atha is a Topeka resident and investor. "It's scary when a company goes under after 150 years of service," said Atha. "I think it creates a -for lack of a better term- a fear in the economy."

But should you be concerned about these latest failures?

Hanna said, "If we've done good planning, paying off debt, having cash reserves and investing in stocks for the longer term, this short term turmoil isn't as big of a deal."

If you're worried about your investments, Hanna says the Securities Investor Protection Corporation is there to protect your money when things like this happen.

"It really backs the integrity of a firm," said Hanna. "So if a firm goes under, then a lot of those investments are protected."

Hanna says the economic setbacks we'll see in our area from the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy are likely short-term.

Economically I would imagine there's still gonna be some struggles for a while but we'll work through that and that may mean less jobs, prices going up, combination of all those things," said Hanna.

And that's what Atha is counting on. "I invest in mutual funds and kinda in for the long haul. I think another six months or a year. I think things will bounce back."

Hanna says it's important not to dwell on an immediate catastrophe. "Hang in there. Get back to those principles of paying things off and having some cash reserves and thinking long term."