JOE BEL BRUNO
March 22, 2008
Wall Street investment bankers got another lesson about the dangers of risk-taking this past week with the downfall of Bear Stearns Cos. The question now obviously is, how long will it last?
Those bankers, many of whom lived through market debacles like the dot-com bust at the start of this decade, turned out to have very short memories. And so analysts believe the sale of Bear Stearns to JPMorgan Chase & Co. for a stunning $2 per share ultimately won’t have that much of an impact on how Wall Street conducts business.
In fact, bankers and traders are under even more pressure to reap big returns because of the ongoing credit crisis, and risk is just part of the game.
“There’s an old saying on Wall Street that, for traders and bankers, you’d have to take a normal 30 year career and distill it to 15 years,” said Quincy Krosby, chief investment strategist for The Hartford. “This whole episode might change Wall Street for a little while.”
Krosby believes that Bear Stearns’ near-collapse, which followed the company’s investing too heavily in risky mortgage-backed securities, might force some bankers to change their ways in the short term. But it won’t be enough to temper the financial industry’s relentless pursuit of money.
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