“In retrospect, it was so easy to take down Bear.”
We’re a bit of a one-trick pony around here today, fighting the good fight against all those nasty speculating reporters and bankers claiming rumors are having damaging effects on the market. But it’s getting late in the day. Bank of America is still pretending it doesn’t need to cut its dividend. Merrill still won’t admit it needs more money, but its stock dropped 9% today. Lehman’s down 11% on now news. (Somebody catch those rumor mongers!) Freddie and Fannie are off 24% and 13%. Why should we bother even pretending anything else we could cover is this much fun?
Charlie Gasparino has now written about his investigation into the market manipulation story. He’s got a personal axe to grind because he’s been named in some of the stories as one of the villains at CNBC whose rumor mongering brought down Bear Stearns.
But as Gasparino shows us: the timing doesn’t work out for the conspiracy theorists. Two hedge fund managers he talked to were pulling their funds out of Bear Stearns long before CNBC started reporting that Bear Stearns investors and customers were concerned about the firm’s liquidity and future business prospects. So the rumors of a run on the bank only really got started after the run was off and, well, running. Meanwhile, the executives at Bear were denying anything was going on.
In short, those nasty rumor mongers were more trust-worthy than the Wall Street executives who either lied or didn’t know that their customers were headed for every exit they could find.
Gasparino: The Right Question for Bear Stearns[CNBC]
Many of you were outraged at the comment made by Bearpont Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon to Charlie Rose that the SEC should investigate the “smoke” surrounding the fall of Bear Stearns, because the mixture of gases and suspended carbon particles supposedly suggests that not only was Jimmy Cayne getting high at the office, but that there may have been a “deliberate and malicious destruction of value” caused by the creation and spreading of a rumor about BSC being in trouble. And, if there’s conclusive evidence of guilt, that those parties should go to prison, and not pansy-ass white collar resort prison for a two month stay but federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison for a very long time. We’re pretty sure Dimon was referring to the so-called evil shorts who a lot of people would like to believe were behind Bear’s demise and not CNBC, but nonetheless would be remiss not to bring this call to put network contributor Dennis Kneale behind bars to your attention. Oh, and here’s a vintage clip of the perp fighting with Charlie Gasparino over whether or not he uses hookers. Just ’cause we love you.
‘Buying A House And Buying A House Full Of Asbestos And Other Cancer Causing Substances Up In The Attic, With A Gasoline Spouting Sprinkler In The Front Yard, Are Two Different Things’By Bess Levin
Bryan Burrough’s recent Vanity Fair article named many parties as suspect in the “murder” of Bear Stearns. But while Citadel, SAC Capital, Goldman Sachs, Jimmy Cayne’s substance abuse problem, Corey Haim and the entire cast of Parker Lewis Can’t Lose really only got quick mentions as possibilities, the pages devoted to CNBC suggested that the bitches over in Englewood Cliffs killed Kenny. Burrough writes that the network was way too quick to disseminate the rumor of a supposed liquidity problem, that a lack of “adult supervision” allowed for catty infighting among anchors and their producers over who would get the interview with CEO Alan Schwartz (and that whoever was snubbed would retaliate on-air), that David Faber, who was supposed to pose blow job questions at Schwartz unfairly fisted him instead, and that Charlie Gasparino trash talked the company, “peppered Sam Molinaro with phone calls seeking comment,” and “raised the specter of a nightmare scenario.”
We haven’t yet talked to Faber about the five finger act that dare not speak its name, but we spoke briefly with Gasparino earlier and there are a few things he’d like you to know.
Not all bad news out of Bear Stearns University! BusinessWeek‘s Matthew Goldstein reports that BSC alum Richard Marin’s got a new job. Marin, the former chairman of BS Asset Mangement, recently unleashed Pointwalk Solutions Network on the world.
Bryan Burrough’s Vanity Fair article on the downfall of Bear Stearns took nearly 16 pages to get to what most would regard as the mother of all ledes, wherein he casually mentions it is believed that a bunch of hedge fund managers “wanted [Bear] to go down, and go down hard,” naming Citadel and SAC Capital as suspects. Burrough’s then goes on to add that after said managers supposedly spread the rumor that ultimately killed BSC, they “celebrated Bear’s collapse at a breakfast that following Sunday and planned a similar assault on Lehman the next week.” He leaves it that, presumably because a. he’s writing a book that will include actual IM conversations between the interested parties, and will place Griffin, Cohen, et al at the scene of the crime, b. he doesn’t have any other details because the breakfast, and the events leading up to it, never actually took place. or c. he’s a man after our own heart, and likes to pepper his prose with fanciful fabrications, in which case he should’ve noted “Stevie-boy was distracted from the meaty conversation by the sheer pleasure of his 3-cheese Denver omelette.” In any event, with all deference to Burrough, I call bull shit.
Let’s just say they did spread the rumors, which I don’t believe they did (and, as an aside: if a company can be brought down by the corporate equivalent of 7th grade girls passing notes in class, perhaps it doesn’t deserve to be in existence anyway). There is no way in hell this meal took place. Ken Griffin and Steve Cohen are not stupid enough to go chest bump over egg McMuffins with the rotting corpse of Bear Stearns at their table (that kind of genius is– or was– reserved for the upper echelons of BSC management).
When you off someone, you go to a safe house, lay low and count your money. You don’t run into the nearest bar with blood on your hands, wave the murder weapon around and go, hey everyone, look what I just did! Drinks for the house, put it on Bear Stearns! (Of course, on the very off-chance that this thing did go down, we want the dirt and we want it now. Waiters, sous chefs, people sitting at neighboring tables– give us a call.) And confidential to Ken and Steve: unlike a shithouse mouse like Vanity Fair, you will get a fair hearing from the reasoned and conscientious phoney reporters at DealBreaker. If you want to get your side of the story out there, do not hesitate to get in touch. 203-890-2000. I’m a good listener.
Bringing Down Bear [Vanity Fair]
We’re still going through the Vanity Fair article on Bear which blames, among others, Citadel, SAC Capital, and Goldman Sachs for bringing down the 85 year-old firm. But before we start pointing fingers, let’s take a second to note the one party writer Bryan Burrough doesn’t think had a hand in blowing the place to smithereens. And in fact, if I may be so bold as to read between the lines, seems to applaud for coming to BSC’s rescue, albeit too late.
But this time it’s serious. ‘Member those sweet limited edition BSC playing cards we told you about the other day? Commemorating Ace Greenberg’s March 8, 1999 50th anniversary with the firm? Bearing his face and money shot of the trademark bowtie? Ringing any bells? Anyway, it was the absolute best piece of Bear memorabilia on the auction block, second only to the wiccan CEO’s Little Book Of Magic. Which is why some twerp (who outbid us) put up $61 in exchange for the deck. Now, however, said twerp informs us that the seller “is MIA, and hence we can’t complete the deal. He/she was also selling a Bear Stearns football, which we also bid on and won. Needless to say we are more than mildly annoyed at not having our hands on these.”
Earlier: Highest Bidder Will Also Receive 2 20-Minute Magic Lessons, On The House
Despite having just changed the name on the front door of 383 Madison to reflect the newly formed JPMorgan Cayne, Jamie Dimon is said to be itching for one more big buy, having not yet conquered his substance abuse problem. Supposedly of interest to the JPM CEO are Washington Mutual and SunTrust and, to a lesser extent, PNC Bank, Wachovia, and US Bancorp, for reasons that include concern about future access to the Fed’s discount window and a kinky desire to have virtually no white space left on his business card. The Post said it was unclear if there’ve been any “formal discussions” regarding an acquisition, or merely “casual CEO-level dialogues,” along the lines of “Hey, what if we bought you?” “Hah, that’d be funny” “Yeah, it would” “Yeah…you wanna go bowling?” “Yeah, two shakes.”
Earlier: Bearpont Morgovia?
Call It JPMor-Gan [NYP]
A little book of magic from our wiccan CEO.