If you haven’t been reading it, Kate Kelly’s series in the Wall Street Journal on the fall of Bear Stearns reads like a thriller. You’ve got to hand it to Rupert Murdoch, he sure is making the paper more exciting to read.
The 40 top Bear Stearns Cos. executives listening to Alan Schwartz over lunch had spent the morning of March 13 watching the firm’s stock plunge. Rumor on Wall Street had it Bear Stearns was strapped for cash.
The chief executive, surrounded by the comforting luster of wood paneling in a 12th-floor dining room, calmly assured his lieutenants that Bear Stearns would weather the storm.
“This,” he said, “is a whole lot of noise.”
Out in the audience, Michael Minikes wasn’t so sure. The 65-year-old Bear Stearns veteran had spent much of that week fielding calls from worried clients. Some had yanked large sums from their Bear Stearns accounts. The worst news had come when Renaissance Technologies Corp., a major hedge fund and trading client, said it was shifting more than $5 billion to competitors.
“Do you have any idea what is going on?” Mr. Minikes asked, cutting off his boss. “Our cash is flying out the door. Our clients are leaving us.”