Friday, March 14, 2008

Bear Depressingly

I'm starting to get really conflicted about this credit meltdown business. On the one hand, boom times for financial services providers essentially underpin my income. On the other hand, I've had such awesomely bad experiences talking to investment bankers, as compared to their clients, that I'm slightly cheered every time one of them inches closer to the abyss. The exception is probably the financial services megastore that holds my money (hint, not the conservative European ones).

Take this morning's developments. Bear Stearns is having appalling problems accessing ready cash, and has just become the recipient of its very own bailout. Am I wondering about the future of intermediaries in credit markets, the similarities to Northern Rock, what this says about the bottom of the market, and the future of the US consumer lifestyle?

No, I'm wandering back to the rudeness of a guy in fixed income in London a year or so back and smiling. God I'm a nasty person. Is there a name for this syndrome? It's fair to say I'm not alone. To take the opposite example, Jim Cramer should, by all accounts, be cheering at the downfall of Wall Street's nemesis, Eliot Spitzer, but he's a friend of the family, and sincerely upset and bewildered by what happened to his buddy.

Who says markets don't run on emotion?

Interesting, amid all the speculation about what will happen to Bear, that there has not been any fresh speculation about who might take it over. Deal Journal had a gander at the question last November, positing that fast-growing hedge funds wanting to expand their infrastructure might take a bite.

Of course, there's always a European or even Gulf bank wanting to make another disastrous US foray. But things are looking so hairy, and so many fingers have been burnt by this mess, it's hard to work out if anyone would be able to close this deal.


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