A Eulogy for the Bear

RIP BEAR
Photo: Photo Illustration: iStockphoto


This past weekend, in the wake of former Bear Stearns CEO James Cayne's getting over the denial stage and selling out his shares in the firm, thereby clearing the way for takeover by JPMorgan, 85-year-old Bear Stearns was prepared for death with more pomp and circumstance than an Egyptian pharaoh. The Times performed a eulogy: “It was a place where a young guy could get ahead on merit,” Jerome Kohlberg Jr., who worked at Bear before founding K.K.R. with fellow Bears Henry R. Kravis and George R. Roberts. “They didn’t care where you came from if you showed you were willing to work. There were Jews, gentiles, Italians, Irish. It was a mixed bag.” Fortune was more clinical: They got their scalpels out and did an autopsy, noting Bear's longtime "addiction to leverage" had "metastasized" and ultimately killed it. Bloomberg took a look at the unrest surrounding the death, and the politicians trying to capitalize on the tragedy, and everyone everywhere tried to figure out why this happened so suddenly and who was to blame. Family members, in the meantime, began a slow descent into grief and alcoholism. "I worked eight years at a firm that promoted me from the back office to investment banking," one former Bear manager told Fortune, sipping a Budweiser on a Metro-North train. "It's all gone now. I think I'll probably move to Pittsburgh, see if the Federal Home Loan Bank needs anybody."

What The Bear Meant For the Street [NYT]
The Last Days of Bear Stearns [Fortune via CNN]
Playing Politics at the Corner of Wall and Main [Bloomberg]