Bear Stearns Butterfly Effect — An Anniversary, Sort Of

June 22, 2012

In keeping with the continuing tradition of the Great Recession: Ratings agency Moody’s downgraded 15 of the world’s biggest banks on Thursday, lowering credit ratings by one to three notches to reflect the risk of losses they face from volatile capital markets activities, but banks criticized the move as backward looking.
Backward to what?

Asshole behavior?
The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which investigated the 2008 financial collapse, concluded about those ‘Masters of the Universe’ and their egos: “Like Icarus, they never feared flying ever closer to the sun.”

Nothing has changed in all this time, as witnessed by the recent JP Morgan bullshit, created by the same financial crap shoot Wall Street was playing around with for a decade — which cost 524,000 US jobs in December 2008 and 1.9 million in the year’s final four months.

Today five years ago the beginnings.

(Illustration found here).

The past is always real funny, and if one took careful notice, could be real eye-opening, too.
On Friday, June 22, 2007, I started work at the liquor store I now manage — the start a reflection of the years to come.

Less than three weeks earlier, my son and I moved to northern California from the state’s central coast region and we both had been looking for work up here.
Although I’d already dropped off a resume at the liquor store, and I’d visited the store a couple of times to inquire about any openings, on this particular morning I decided to try once again.
Previous visits were useless and I needed now to talk to the owner — the incident went somewhat-like the following.

There was an older guy behind the counter this time instead of a couple of young clerks.
I walk up to the counter and politely asked: “Are you the owner?”
He stared at me intently a second or two, then responded: “I’m fucked.”
My brain stuttered at this most-unexpected response and I couldn’t figure out words to slip to my mouth — I was speechless.
After a few seconds, though, he said yes he was the owner, and explained he was involved with some serious problems with his wife, which I didn’t nowhere-at-all understand.
After talking a few minutes and after I’d explained the job search, he hired me on the spot — very rare and way-unusual for such a job like this, working with cash and alcohol — and I went behind the counter myself and started work right then.

Later, he suffered some kind of mental breakdown and his wife took control of the store.
She’s been running it ever since, and even without any experience in such things, has done a bang-up good job, despite the deep slash in sales that followed the financial meltdown.
Speaking of which…

Also that same day:

On June 22, 2007, Bear Stearns pledged a collateralized loan of up to $3.2 billion to “bail out” one of its funds, the Bear Stearns High-Grade Structured Credit Fund, while negotiating with other banks to loan money against collateral to another fund, the Bear Stearns High-Grade Structured Credit Enhanced Leveraged Fund — from Wikipedia.

Which was the first of those tumbling, dominoes, also via Wikipedia: The collapse of the company was a prelude to the risk management meltdown of the Wall Street investment bank industry in September 2008, and the subsequent global financial crisis and recession. In January 2010, JPMorgan ceased using the Bear Stearns name.
And how the great had fallen — March 26, 2008: A used T-shirt bearing the Bear Stearns logo has sold for $151.76 online, worth about 14 or 15 shares in the once venerable Wall Street investment bank.

Of course, all that is a way-simple look at the horror that’s engulfed the entire freakin’ world the past four years and is apparently is not yet finished.
Oddly, JP Morgan purchased Bear Stearns and then became involved with the very thing that caused the initial meltdown, the trading of so-called derivatives — I haven’t a clue how that shit works, or doesn’t work.

But it caused some shit five years ago — the beginnings wrapped up in a bow.
In December 2007 and UK professor Peter Spencer, chief economist for the ITEM Club, on the-then just a ripple in the financial world:

“The central banks are rapidly losing control.
By not cutting interest rates nearly far enough or fast enough, they are allowing the money markets to dictate policy.
We are long past worrying about moral hazard,” he says.
“They still have another couple of months before this starts imploding.
Things are very unstable and can move incredibly fast.
I don’t think the central banks are going to make a major policy error, but if they do, this could make 1929 look like a walk in the park,” he adds.

Yes, indeed, unfortunately, Mr. Spencer was more-than spot on.

Maybe if I’d not gotten the liquor-store job, and the old owner, not as “fucked” as he really, really was, maybe, just maybe, Bear Stearns would not have folded up like a cheap accordion.
The butterfly effect — woe is me!

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