Street Fighters: The Last 72 Hours of Bear Stearns, the Toughest Firm on Wall Street
By Kate Kelly
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Wall Street Journal reporter Kelly expands on her 2008 three-part series, written just two and a half months after the collapse of financial giant Bear Stearns, with an hour-by-hour account of the crisis that goes behind the stock prices and into the meeting rooms of top executives as the crisis comes into horrifying focus. A kind of “dysfunctional family, driven by greed and a complex code of internal politics,” Kelly expertly breaks down Bear’s vulnerability as a leader in mortgage-backed securities, with “one of the heaviest debt loads of any firm on the Street.” As word got out that the firm was in trouble, a wave of panic selling sent the stock plummeting to $60 on the second day of the crisis (after securing Federal Reserve funding) only to bottom out at two dollars a share in fire-house-sale offer from J.P. Morgan. Enlivened by graphic descriptions of executive disarray and cameo profiles of scrambling financiers as they come to appreciate the magnitude of the disaster they unleashed (COO Friedman, when asked by NY Fed Geithner how bad it was, answered “Very. End of the world bad.”), this riveting account puts the ensuing worldwide financial crises in stark perspective. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.