Last night I received an advance copy of a new book by Wall Street Journal reporter Kate Kelly that gives us a peek inside the last seventy-two hours at Bear Stearns in March 2008. If you are interested in finance, “Street Fighters” is definitely a good book to purchase. Not only does it read well, but it is also very revealing about the machinations behind the scenes on Wall Street and in global finance. The book comes out today.
I started my blogging career days before the Bear Stearns collapse. That weekend, I went to the beach with my extended family, away from the television, the news and the hubbub in finance. I remember quite clearly learning of Bear’s demise and being shocked at how quickly the firm had gone under. For me, it was like an alarm bell that this financial crisis was going to be not only more devastating but faster than previous crises. I see the Bear Stearns story as a tragedy for the people who worked at the firm, believed in it, and lost nearly everything when it went under. And I believe Kelly does as well as she dedicates the book “to the 14,000 people who worked a Bear Stearns.”
The book begins on the Thursday before Bear’s collapse and uses information pieced together in interviews with hundreds of people involved from Bear, JPMorgan Chase, the Fed, the SEC, Treasury and elsewhere on the Street. Much of this has already been chronicled by Kelly in a three-part series for the Wall Street Journal last May. So, in a sense, some of this is rehash. But, for those of you who are not familiar with Wall Street and did not catch the original three-part series, this book will be a good read. Moreover, I think it is fairly comprehensive in terms of giving an insider’s perspective to how Wall Street works, including how regulators interact with the regulated.
For me, the book has more personal significance in that the first firm I interviewed with on Wall Street 20 years ago was Bear Stearns. I have friends who lost their jobs and much of their savings due to the demise. And the Bear Stearns drama gave my blogging more significance, turning what was merely a hobby into a passion.