Sunday, June 8, 2008

Rumors, Fact and Fiction in Bear Stearns Collapse Show Limits of Traditional Media

A recent three-part series of articles in the Wall Street Journal chronicled the collapse of Bear Stearns. As part of the company's effort, CEO Alan Schwartz, appeared on CNBC to dispel rumors about Bear's eroding solvency. In the old days, this might have worked, or at least have helped the bank buy time. Unfortunately, there was no real way for Bear Stearns to contain what was happening. No matter what the company said to CNBC and other major media was enough to convince traders around the world who were refusing to do business with Bear Stearns. The degree to which informal information networks among traders showed how banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions are all at risk of public crises of confidence, especially in this jittery market.

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