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Alan Greenspan Regrets Rien

In light of the recent barrage of criticism of him, and in light of the fact that Greenspan is 82, the former Fed chairman tries to defend himself against all the bad things people are saying about him.

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Buyout Exodus at ‘Newsweek’

A dating blogger seeks a book deal, trading desks think recession, and Jean Nouvel wins the Pritzker in our daily roundup of media, finance, law, and real-estate news.

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A Eulogy for the Bear

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.

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Touching and Feeling With Jamie And Alan

Everyone was feeling a lot yesterday when JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon met with Bear Stearns executives to discuss the changes he'll make when and if his takeover deal of the firm comes to fruition, and a lot of what they were feeling was anger.

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The Fall of Bear Stearns: A Quickie Guide

The Wall Street Journal today has a big story walking us through the events leading up to the collapse of Bear Stearns this past week. But perhaps you haven't gotten to it yet. It's so large and inky, and you've been busy, going to meetings and calculating your annual income should you become a high-class hooker. Still, you don't want to look like an idiot, should someone, somewhere, bring up What Happened at Bear Stearns. You will want to nod knowledgably and pontificate on how it Might Affect the Economy. Which is why, using handy bullet points, we've summarized how the bank's dalliance with subprime lending, coupled with a dope-smoking CEO, finally caught up with them in a stunning week-or-so period. To keep things in perspective, we started at the beginning. The very beginning.

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JPMorgan Gearing Up to Move Into Bear's Sweet HQ

FINANCE • JPMorgan Chase will probably move its investment-banking unit to Bear Stearns' smokin'-hot headquarters on Madison Avenue. The building is valued at $1.2 billion, which is just one-fourth of quadruple the price JPMorgan paid for the firm itself. [NYP] • JPMorgan Chase's valuation of Bear Stearns shows that financial institutions are significantly overvalued. Speaking of which, many employees had their life savings wiped out. [NYP, WSJ] • Meanwhile Goldman Sachs' earnings are down but beat analysts' expectations. [DealBook/NYT]

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Lehman to World: ‘And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going’

After this weekend's deal to sell collapsing investment bank Bear Stearns to JPMorgan, market watchers were frantically scanning the horizon to see which financial firm might be next. The name on everybody's lips turned out to be Lehman Brothers. The bank, whose profile is similar to that of Bear Stearns, was a major player in the subprime-mortgage market as of last summer, and its shares have tumbled from $82 then to $31.75 last night. It's also the smallest of the most important Wall Street power firms. But Lehman CEO Richard Fuld aggressively made it clear yesterday that if there is in fact a domino effect among the firms, it won't be his company that will be tumbled first. Why? • Because Lehman learned a ton from a similar crisis in 1998, after a panic over Russian debt, and returned stronger. • As a result, they have a much higher level of liquidity this time around. Like, $35 billion in cash and liquid assets, on top of $160 billion in "unencumbered" assets, so it can borrow more.

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World Reels After Bear Stearns Is Sold For Pocket Change

Bear
"This is like waking up in summer with snow on the ground,” Ron Geffner, a former SEC lawyer, told the Times of the news that last night JPMorgan, aided by the Federal Reserve Bank, bought Bear Stearns at a shocking 93 percent discount on Bear's Friday closing price: $2 a share, or $236 million. Including the Madison Avenue headquarters, a property valued at least $1.2 billion. It was a nice present for JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, who celebrated his 52nd birthday on Thursday, but not so much for the world economy: Although the last-minute buyout was supposed to stem the credit crisis and, as the Fed said yesterday, "bolster market liquidity and promote orderly market functioning," it seems to have done precisely the opposite. Markets in Europe and Asia tanked overnight, the dollar plunged, and trading on Wall Street is hobbled by fears of a domino effect. Today's economic conditions are "the most wrenching since the end of the second World War," Alan Greenspan told CNN. Fortunately, it's Saint Patrick's Day, so even though there's no green circulating in the market, there is green beer. Drink up, folks. It's going to be a long, depressing ride. JP Morgan Pays $2 a Share For Bear Stearns [NYT] A Deal For Bear Stearns [WSJ] Press Release [Federal Reserve]

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Spitzer–Mortgage Industry Connection

Sad Spitz
Amid all the vengeful glee on Wall Street, the Ashleymania, and the coverage that has accompanied Spitzer’s fall, one aspect of the story has been underexplored, according to journalist Greg Palast: Could the Lonesome Gov’s fall have had something to do with the Fed's $200 billion bailout of the subprime-mortgage industry, which Spitzer conspicuously opposed and which coincidentally occurred on the same day as his resignation? It was a federal investigation which uncovered Spitzer, Palast points out, and his outing could be seen as unusual.
Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, paid Washington DC prostitutes to put him in diapers (ewww!), yet the Senator was not exposed by the US prosecutors busting the pimp-ring that pampered him. Naming and shaming and ruining Spitzer — rarely done in these cases — was made at the ‘discretion’ of Bush’s Justice Department.
Palast, a cult hero in underground journalism circles (he’s the winner of six “Project Censored” awards), doesn’t really unload any evidence as much as speculate at sinister motives, but it's interesting, and better than watching Ashley’s maddeningly chaste dance moves on some scrub’s cell-phone camera. —Josh Ozersky Eliot’s Mess [Greg Palast] Predatory Lenders' Partner in Crime [WP]

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How Eliot Spitzer Missed His Money Shot

Spizter
Eliot Spitzer’s political career, gravely injured after a collision with reality on Monday, finally passed into the great unknown two days later. But Spitzerism — the soul, that is, of his career — expired months ago. Unlike virtually every other Democratic politician in the country, Eliot Spitzer understood markets. He believed in the potential of widespread investing in stocks to build and spread genuine wealth, and as attorney general, he was like a Money magazine editor on crack, targeting enemies of small investors: self-promoting analysts, corrupt mutual-fund traders, predatory lenders. Spitzerism wasn't about taxing and regulating profits; it was about diffusing profits to people who have never received a dividend check.

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CEOs Fry at Congressional Hearing!

TheThree
Oh, not really. We're just exaggerating. That's what the media does, according to former Citigroup CEO Chuck Prince, Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo, and former Merrill Lynch CEO Stan O'Neal,all of whom who have all offered up the line that the media has "grossly exaggerated" the amounts of their compensation in their testimony in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today. “The reality is that I received no severance package," said O'Neal. This is technically true: but he did recieve $161.5 million in cash, stock and stock options upon his "retirement" in October. Over at Portfolio, Elizabeth Olson is live-blogging the hearing, and she has reported that, among other things, Countrywide Financial CEO Mozilo looks "tan and confident," but everyone looks totes unhappy. The day started out with a bang: Chair Henry Waxman, who called for the hearing, wondered aloud whether the "hundreds of millions of dollars [the CEOs] were given represent a complete disconnect from reality," but Republican representative Tom Davis killed his joy by saying that they "should not degenerate into a sanctimonious search for scapegoats.… Punishing individual corporate executives with public floggings like this may be a politically satisfying ritual — like an island tribe sacrificing a virgin to a grumbling volcano." Indeed. Also, who knew Davis was so creative? Credit C.E.O. Comp Under Fire, IV [Daily Brief/Portfolio]

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Another Sad Day for Schwarzman

FINANCE • Where has all of Steve Schwarzman's money gone? A report saying that his fund would earn less than half of what was predicted caused Blackstone's stock price to tumble. [NYP] • Former Countrywide Financial, Citigroup, and Merrill Lynch execs get ready to explain to Congress why they got huge paychecks as their shareholders lost billions. [DealBook/NYT] • Financier Carl Icahn ups his stake in Motorola. [DealBook/NYT]

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