Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fire Sale at Bear Stearns. Who's Next?

So, J.P. Morgan Chase has just bought Bear Stearns for $2 per share. BS's stock was at $30 per share on Friday and was as high as $170 per share at one point last year. This means JPM paid about $1 billion total for BS, less than BS's net income in some recent years. The only thing too bad about this, given BS's unwillingness to share any of the costs of stabilizing the markets after the 1998 LTCM crisis, is that about a third of the BS shares are owned by its employees, one of the major banks closest to being worker-owned. They are definitely taking a major bath.

Of course, the other question has got be, who's next? The Fed has now made two major innovative efforts to stabilize the markets in the last two weeks, but the TED spread has barely budged, and both Carlyle and Citigroup have been in trouble as well as BS. Major financial entities are hurting, and the dollar continues to fall while oil has now gone above $110 per barrel. The Fed is running out of arrows in its quiver.

1 comment: said...

I am going to recommend that people see comments by Jim Hamilton at econbrowser on this. BS got in deep doo doo because they were up their neck in complex derivatives, credit debit swaps, to the tune of $13.4 trillion. This number has not been widely publicized, but it is a good one to keep in mind as to why the broader problems in the financial system are very serious and quite possibly beyond the power of the Fed or anybody else to do anything serious about.