Saturday, March 15, 2008

The End of Bear Stearns.

It survived two World Wars and the Great Depression. It hangs by a thread in the credit crunch of 2007-08. From today's Wall Street Journal:

On Monday, Bear issued a statement in which (Bear Stearns CEO Alan) Schwartz wrote that the firm's "balance sheet, liquidity and capital remain strong." On Wednesday, he ducked out of a Bear media conference in Palm Beach, Fla., for a CNBC interview in another effort to deflect speculation about Bear's situation.

But by Thursday afternoon, it was becoming clear within Bear that the firm couldn't withstand an accelerating retreat by worried customers -- in effect, a run on the bank. Securities firms that had been willing to accept collateral from Bear Stearns were insisting on cash instead. And the hedge funds that use Bear to borrow money and clear trades were withdrawing cash from their accounts. Around 4:30 p.m., Mr. Schwartz was convinced that Bear was facing a desperate situation.

You can read the rest here.