A history of bailouts and financial market rescue at JP Morgan

by Erin McCune on March 18, 2008

in Banking, Economic Outlook

CFO.com provides historical context for JPMorgan Chase & Co's intervention to rescue Bear Sterns:

image When J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. swooped in to save Bear Stearns from collapse on Sunday, it was not the first time the big bank had embarked on such a rescue mission. Taking on a balance sheet laden with toxic mortgage securities for $2 a share was bold but in keeping with the tradition of the firm founded in 1861 by the John Pierpont Morgan. After all, the bank has made a habit of bringing a dose of calm during a financial panic, while often managing to make money out of dire predicaments.

"The early House of Morgan was something between a central bank and a private bank," writes Ron Chernow in The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance. "It stopped panics, saved the gold standard, rescued New York City three times, and arbitrated financial disputes."

Time will tell whether this particular deal is a profitable one for JPMorgan Chase.  According to Andrew Ross Sorkin at the NYTimes DealBook: "It will go down either as a heroic rescue of the financial system or grand theft, Wall Street style. Maybe it was a bit of both. Make no mistake: this was one of the greatest corporate euthanizations of all time. And Wall Street played its own gleeful role in it." 

The front page of today's Wall Street Journal has a day by day narrative of the demise of Bear Sterns and there is a cool timeline of market indicators here.

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