May 29, 2008

wsj on the fall of bear stearns

The Journal has been running its three-part series on the fall of Bear Stearns, and it’s absolutely worth reading, assuming you have a reasonable amount of stomach lining to spare. Worth quoting at length, this excerpt about the Sunday night conference call between a group of “Wall Street CEOs” (the Journal’s words, not mine) discussing the (then) $2 per share buy out of Bear by J.P. Morgan…

Messrs. Geithner and Dimon led off with some brief remarks, noting that J.P. Morgan would be guaranteeing Bear Stearns’s debts and that if the pact hadn’t come together, the market impact may have been catastrophic. During the question-and-answer session, Citigroup Inc.’s new CEO, Vikram Pandit, spoke up.

Mr. Pandit – who did not initially identify himself – asked a shrewd but technical question: How would the deal affect the risk to Bear Stearns’s trading partners on certain long-term contracts?

The query irked Mr. Dimon. “Who is this?” he snapped. Mr. Pandit identified himself as “Vikram.” Offended that Mr. Pandit was taking up time with what he considered granular inquiries, Mr. Dimon shot back, “Stop being such a jerk.” He added that Citigroup “should thank us” for staving off further mayhem on Wall Street.

The online feature has all sorts of video and links to archived stories about the fall.