Bear Stearns Cos. shares plummeted a record 53 percent after the New York Federal Reserve and JPMorgan Chase & Co. stepped in to rescue the fifth-largest U.S. securities firm with emergency funding.
After denying earlier this week that access to capital was at risk, Bear Stearns said today that its cash position had ``significantly deteriorated'' in the past 24 hours. The New York Fed agreed to provide financing through JPMorgan for up to 28 days, the bank said in a statement today.
The regulator stepped in to prevent the collapse of the second-biggest underwriter of U.S. mortgage bonds and forestall a potential market panic as losses by banks and brokers reached $195 billion and stocks plunged for a third day this week. JPMorgan, which has suffered fewer losses than rivals during the credit crisis, may end up owning all or part of Bear Stearns, analysts speculated.
``I don't think they can afford to let Bear go,'' said Charles Geisst, the author of ``100 Years on Wall Street,'' referring to the New York Fed bailout. ``At this particular moment in time, it would be a devastating blow to the markets.''
Bear Stearns acted in response to ``market rumors'' of a liquidity crisis, Chief Executive Officer Alan Schwartz said in a separate statement. He said earlier this week that the company's ``liquidity cushion'' was sufficient to weather the credit-market contraction. Traders have been reluctant to engage in long-term transactions with Bear Stearns as the counterparty, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.
1.) Earlier this week, Bear Stearns denied there were any problems. We know how reliable those statements were. Can we now please assume that any representative of a financial company who says things are fine is lying? It really would make life a great deal easier.
2.) Yesterday, S&P announced that the big banks were near the end of their writedowns. They also said the US can win a land war in Asia.
3.) Bear did this to themselves. They got involved in the mortgage backed market of their own free will. They obviously made some incredibly stupid choices and decisions. They should be allowed to fail, plain and simple.
The only way to prevent this mess from happening again is to let some of the big banks fail. Then in the future when someone says, "let's stop performing due diligence on borrowers" someone can respond with, "Bear Stearns tried that and they went belly up." Now in 10 years, someone will say, "Let's stop performing due diligence" someone will respond with "that's a great idea. After the borrowers default, the Federal Reserve will bail us out."