Opening Bell: 3.18.08

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The Week That Shook Wall Street: Inside the Demise of Bear Stearns (WSJ)
They're still talking about this one? Not that you need yet another "must-read" account of the Bear Stearns collapse, but this may be the closest thing we have to a definitive history right now. From Tuesday through Sunday, the rapid final days before the sale. Definitely a must-read.
Northern Rock to axe a third of staff (Telegraph)
Some layoffs news from across the pond: Northern Rock will lay off over a third of its staff, perhaps up to 2500 of its 6,000 employees. The layoffs come as part of the nationalized bank's attempts to reorganizes its business and head back into the world. Other aspects of the plan: selling assets and luring retail depositors back.
Bush Supports Fed’s Actions, but Critics Quickly Find Fault (NYT)
It seems like some folks are getting tripped up over language. The term Bear Stearns bailout has really got to go. Yes, the Fed engaged in some sort of bailout. And yes Bear Stearns was involved. It doesn't mean the Fed bailed out Bear Stearns, as evidenced by, say this stock chart. Why does it matter? Because the perception is that the government stepped into to protect its investment bank cronies while leaving millions of Americans on the hook for their debts. Then again, politicians will always use anything to say anything, so why be surprised.
Gov. Paterson admits to sex with other woman for years (Daily News)
For several hours last night, Drudge was running a teaser about a paper getting set to release a 'political bombshell'. Then the word was that it was the Daily News and our hearts sank a little. And then it we saw the headline and got excited -- the new gov? An affair? Already? But it's not really so great. It's old and his wife already knew about it. It was during a difficult time and even she had an affair. So, good they're getting it out there. Not really a scandal. Oh and no sex-for-money, which pretty much undercuts any commerce angle we might've found.
Bernanke May Cut Benchmark Rate by Most Since Volcker (Bloomberg)
Oh right: Fed meeting today. So, who says we're going to get the big 1-point-0? Anyone? Let's say we do, what then? Might just be a sell the news. As we mentioned yesterday, the last thing we need is confirmation that the Fed will do anything to save the ship. That we've known forever. Might be more reassuring to know that the Fed has some cojones.
Court frees SocGen trader Kerviel pending probe (Reuters)
This is ridiculous. Pending an investigation, Jerome Kerviel has been freed. We are outraged by this negligence. As long as men like Kerviel are free to roam the streets, our financial system is insecure. What's stopping him from trading away another $7.1 billion just like that? Nothing. Only behind bars, without access to a trading terminal, can we rest easy again. Unfortunately, he's not in America, so we doubt that Bill O'Reilly could browbeat the judge into putting him back where he belongs.


Tornadoes in the City? (AccuWeather)
As the recent events in Atlanta demonstrate, Tornadoes can and do occur in the city. Yet they are very rare. Got an answer? Joe Sobel is running a weather quiz. As far as we're concerned though, you can put them in the comments here and we'll let you know when he gives his answer. Or you can send your answer to him and be good internet citizens.
Tottenham come through £500m crisis (Telegraph)
We were sort of curious about this yesterday: where stands Joe Lewis' fortune, following his $1 billion Bear hit. Turns out: he'll do okay. Dude has about $5 billion, though even still, you have to figure that a $1 billion "haircut" has to smart a little bit. It's like when we lose $200 playing poker. Yeah, technically it doesn't matter, but it still takes a minute to shake off. We're sure it's the same for him, although on CNBC they kept quoting him as saying the offer was "derisory", so it sounds like he doesn't want to accept it. Meanwhile, his stake in the parent of Football club Tottenham is said to be secure, which was actually the entire hook for the Telegraph article. Brits. (via Controlled Greed)
Where Does Bear Stearns Go From Here? (Information Arbitrage)
One of yesterday's recurring questions: Why is BSC trading so far above $2? It's still a little hard to say, though people must see some combination of 'breathing time', 'Fed lifeline', 'White knight', 'deal restructuring' bringing in a better offer, otherwise, let's just say, economic rationality has been seriously turned on its had. Anyway, probably not going to happen, says Roger Ehrenberg. There are really only two endpoints for Bear at this point and they are $2/share and $0/share, the latter being more likely if shareholders get uppity.
Fighting Recession With Panic (American)
Another argument for why the Fed is delivering the wrong medicine to the economy. Maybe not not new ground for you, but well reasoned.

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