Buying Bear’s HQ

During Friday’s live blogging of the Bear Stearns collapse, I casually mentioned  their HQ. In the heat of the moment, I said something snarky and rather sarcastic:

10:56:  My office is 2 blocks from Bear’s HQ. I should walk over and make a bid for their building, which is really nice.

That’s the beauty of the internet — you never know where whatever it is you are saying might get picked up and reproduced. To wit: Marketwatch:


I walk by their building just about every day — and it is really nice. But, truth be told, I was joking — we simply do not need all that much space . . .

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Discussions found on the web:
  1. Tom commented on Mar 15

    The real hazard to our financial system is the failure of institutions to increase their liquidity reserves to account for monumental increase in derivative risk exposure. This risk will cascade through our financial system faster than fecal matter through a goose’s intestinal tract.

  2. Tom commented on Mar 15

    BS headquarters building is the strongest asset on their books, and ironically perhaps the most liquid, since its value is easily accessed.

  3. Maximo commented on Mar 15

    I saw that and I thought it was funny that they picked up your quote so freaking fast. They [Market Watch editors] probably have an intern reading your blog for quotes.

  4. mo commented on Mar 15

    My boyfriend works at JPM. Just last night he just said he would like to work in that building.

  5. Maximo commented on Mar 15

    Also, I just wanted to say that modern monetary policy is nothing like what we are learning in B School.

    Not so long ago some on Wall Street were calling for the elimination of Federal Reserve. Where are they now?

    The Fed is playing the role of KIVA lender, bailing out Bear Stearns with short-term loans to help avoid a collapse that should’ve been allow to happen. Whatever happened to crative destruction?

  6. SR commented on Mar 15

    Senor Barry,

    Have you not learned of the insatiable (bordering on desperate) content demands of the media?

    ie Anything you say can be misquoted, and used against you in a administrative proceeding.

    Btw now speaking to the astute minds of Congress….

    Sound familiar? Like an old Chrysler commerical (“Buy a car, get a check” era) from the 80’s. How quaint….

    Note: Thank you for all the do that you do here! The enlightenment (for myself) is astounding!

  7. Ross commented on Mar 15

    Make the bid, Barry. I’ll rent a few sq. ft. to help you out.

  8. Marcus Aurelius commented on Mar 15

    we simply do not need all that much space . . .


    Just use what you need and convert the rest to condos. It’s the key to prosperity.

  9. JustinTheSkeptic commented on Mar 15

    Wait a couple years and you’ll be able to get it on the cheap!

  10. DoctorOfLove commented on Mar 15

    Maximo – BS has collapsed. Fed is just providing DIP financing (debtor in possession) while the assets are sold.

    Right now, for the first time since Greenspan the drunken sailor man took over, the dollar supply is dropping rapidly. Like catastrophically rapidly. Fed is just trying to reduce the g forces.

    Oil below $70 by 9/30/2008.

  11. Douglas Watts commented on Mar 15

    In the heat of the moment, I said something snarky and rather sarcastic:

    On a blog ???

    Mon Dieu !!!!

    Ou est mon smelling salts ???

  12. Johnny Vee commented on Mar 15

    I would like a new desk and chair…maybe a book shelf or two. When is the going out of business sale?

  13. Old Ari commented on Mar 15

    Any publicity is good for you. This you got free!

  14. Inquisitor commented on Mar 15

    Yeah it’s pretty ridiculous when a firm’s building comprises 1/3 the value of its market cap… wow. I just wonder who’s next.

  15. MarkTX commented on Mar 15

    So if you are not going to buy it Barry….

    Maybe someone else will get a sub-prime loan to buy the building.

  16. Eric commented on Mar 15

    I walk by their building just about every day — and it is really nice. But, truth be told, I was joking — we simply do not need all that much space . . .

    …why, that’s a funny way to end the post. Let’s see, did someone approach you with an offer?

  17. mh497 commented on Mar 15

    The more interesting question is whether this marks the bottom for this financial crisis. I think it may well.

    Also, there is an odd karmic footnote: Bear Stearns didn’t earn the admiration of other Wall Street firms when it declined to pony up for the Fed bailout of LTCM years back. They explained that they were already in for enough as they cleared for LTCM. (I think..)

  18. Rich_Lather commented on Mar 15

    It looks like you have arrived, Barry. I’m waiting to see one of your quotes on DrudgeReport soon. I’ll buy you a DVD if the quote is in red.

  19. John Borchers commented on Mar 15

    Their market cap is now what $4B. Isn’t the building alone worth that much?

  20. Bob A commented on Mar 15

    I love that word “snarky”.

    “Smarmy”s another good Brit term that could be applied to well… alot of things in recent news.

  21. Winston Munn commented on Mar 15

    The management of Bear-Stearns must feel like “The Jerk”:

    “And that’s it and that’s the only thing I need, is this. I don’t need this or this. Just this ashtray. And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that’s all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that’s all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that’s all I need. And that’s all I need too. I don’t need one other thing, not one – I need this. The paddle game, and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches, for sure. And this. And that’s all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, this magazine and the chair.”

  22. Quant commented on Mar 15

    Anyone want to speculate which will be the next domino to fall?


  23. zell commented on Mar 15

    My prediction is that by the time this organic, non linear contraction is completed Barry will be able to buy the building.
    The giant sucking sound you hear now is the implosion of leverage. Ben B. is peeing into the vortex. He has to try.

  24. AGG commented on Mar 15

    President Bush, speaking in New York and in a television interview yesterday, showed little appetite for further action. Detailing the steps the administration has already taken, the president in a speech knocked a couple of pending proposals. “Government policy,” he said, “is like a person trying to drive a car on a rough patch. If you ever get stuck in a situation like that, you know full well it’s important not to overcorrect — because when you overcorrect you end up in the ditch.”

    Now suppose, just suppose, that you are already in a canyon sized ditch, the only thing that will get you out is a Chinese Money Tow Truck. Debasing your currency doesn’t attract Chinese Tow Trucks. No Ticket, no laundry.

    Those who continue to equate volatility to risk will continue to get burned big time.

  25. mw commented on Mar 15

    You know that as of late that we hear the term “Moral Hazard”. Let me tell you that I believe there is not ONE person in Washington, Wall Street, or even for that matter on Main Street that really gives a #@*# about this. They are really worried about “SOLVENCY HAZARD”.

  26. Nihilism commented on Mar 15


    Perhaps it is not too late to add a new sub-index under: Credit/Derivative: & call it BAILOUT!

    I think/feel, we are in the early stages of this cycle and it (BAILOUT) just crossed the 200 month/week moving average and the this new city called BAILOUT, is young and growing!

    May be a bunch of bloggers should start an online comedy show that uses businesses, fed and CEOs as comedy material!

  27. Winston Munn commented on Mar 15

    The Fed’s action is like trying to blow out the lighted fuse on a string of firecrackers after having trusted the kids with the kitchen matches.

  28. Pat G. commented on Mar 15

    You’re not worried about being politically correct are you? I believe you’re calling them as you assess them and you don’t have a hidden agenda. Political correctness is over-rated. Give me a straight shooter any day.

  29. Jon H commented on Mar 15

    I’ll take a floor at $.10/square yard if I can convert it to a residential loft.

  30. Al Czervic commented on Mar 15

    They could turn it into a homeless shelter.
    Ya see the irony there?

  31. la grande poussée commented on Mar 15

    I’ll take a couple of hundred Sq. Feet – of course I assume the building is up to date
    being “wired – high wired!” Will the building limo’s pick up a tenant in the AM if need be?

    I assume there are good places to eat there – Jeans OK?

  32. David commented on Mar 15

    Bear Sterns Headquarters is a nice looking skyscraper, now that the taxpayer’s own it, we can turn it into affordable housing!

    “The whirligig of time brings in his revenges.”
    William Shakespeare

  33. Deal Junkie commented on Mar 15

    That building alone is worth $1.3 billion.

  34. Pat G. commented on Mar 15

    BR–Here’s a quip from Fleckenstein’s article on MSN: “This just goes to show you the Fed will move heaven and earth to try to keep Wall Street (and, by extension, the economy) running.” That’s my idea of political correctness.

  35. Rob Dawg commented on Mar 15

    Why can I just not get the image of Tom Hanks in “Big” out of my head?

    Anyway the building might be worth a lot now but when 14,000 employees hit the pavement in two weeks I suspect Manhattan RE may not prove as resilient as has been suggested.

  36. Aristotle commented on Mar 15

    Why are some thinking this could be the bottom? It seems their could be plenty more write-offs and more hedge funds and ibanks that could fail. Help please?

  37. matt commented on Mar 15

    Soon to be graduating, on the job search, and I am thinking about adding the following the my qualifications:

    – Never lost $7 billion in rogue trading scandal.
    – Have never worked for or been involved with Bear Stearns in any way.

    That’s gotta be close to getting an MBA, no?

  38. thebigkill commented on Mar 16

    Maximo said…

    Also, I just wanted to say that modern monetary policy is nothing like what we are learning in B School.

    Not so long ago some on Wall Street were calling for the elimination of Federal Reserve. Where are they now?

    The Fed is playing the role of KIVA lender, bailing out Bear Stearns with short-term loans to help avoid a collapse that should’ve been allow to happen. Whatever happened to crative destruction?


    What they don’t teach in B school is the politics of avoiding a market crash in an election year and avoiding having mom and dad’s 401k’s deteriorate to half its portfolio value within a one year period during a time when a sizable share of the US babyboomer workforce imagined themselves moments away from retirement.

    Textbooks rarely take blood on the streets into consideration. Authors prefer not to bother with such an assumption, and assume infallible US presidents like George Bush always appoint objective, responsible central bankers like Alan Greenspan.

  39. Mark Hessel commented on Mar 16

    Hey Barry,

    Even if you were joking, it was
    a good quote. Bear Sterns dropped
    from 55 to 30 in one day.

    The whole world was watching the
    debacle and a little humor never

  40. goldbull commented on Mar 16

    Dont understand the rationale for comparing 2008 with 1980 ? Looking at the FED funds
    historical rates the best analogy I see 1973~2006, 1974~2007, 1975~2008. The dollar weakened ~30% 1967-1973 analogous to 2001-2006. This would map to vietnam war spending vs iraq which are prime causes of dollar decline. So my predictions are we have only seen the 1973 oil shock so far. Oil has got a way to go. Late 2008 and full year 2009 may see lower inflation amid recession and persistent low fed funds rate. 2011 or 2012 will be like 1979 with high inflation and gold at ~10x the 2006 price or about $6000 an ounce. Appreciate your comment on this Barry.

  41. Expat commented on Mar 16

    WSJ headline on Monday: “Bear shares rally 275% on news big private investor to buy out real estate holdings”

    NY, 17 March 2008:

    An unnamed private investor has expressed interest in the entire real estate portfolio of Bear Sterns, driving the share price to a three year high and moving the DJ Index up by 1248 points. An analyst from Goldman, a competitor bank, said, “It’s a strong sign that the market has severely undervalued the entire mortgage security market. It appears we have missed the bottom but are working on a competitive bid ourselves.”

    Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke gave a brief statement in which he confirmed the official line of “I told you so”. Meanwhile, fund managers from Peloton and Carlyle threatened lawsuits against creditor banks on the basis that if they had waited just a few more days, all of the “unpleasantness” could have been avoided.

    In Washington, President Bush asked that the anonymous bidder step forward to accept the nation’s thanks, saying, “As long as there is still one American who believes in our great American economy and way of life, our system will endure. I am very relieved that we found that last guy…just hope he’s not another Arab or Chink.

  42. blin commented on Mar 16

    Read this on The Smirking Chimnp:

    This week he gave a speech in Dubai recommending phasing out trading oil in the petrodollar. Well, isn’t that patriotic? Unfortunately, the international standard of trading oil in dollars has been the last bit of glue holding the dollar in place. When Greenspan tacitly or directly recommends to the Arabs that they switch to the euro and the ruble, he is committing treason.

    Has anybody heard about this? Can anyone confirm this?

  43. JustinTheSkeptic commented on Mar 16

    Good morning my fine feathered friends. I know the market is going up from here, because we are, “way oversold!” But I have read several articles this morning that are using phrases like: “not a typical situation,” “not business as usual.” Somehow, I think the street is coming around to thinking like me – “this is not your average bear, boo-boo!”

  44. JustinTheSkeptic commented on Mar 16

    blin, what a situation we have ourselves in, where truth means treason!” I hope our democracy stands for more than that.

  45. RNL commented on Mar 16

    Predictions for this week?

    Lehman stock plummets?
    Bear into the woodchipper?
    Visa goes to $80 the first day?
    75bp cut?
    Gold to $1100?

    Wild week incoming!

  46. VennData commented on Mar 16


    Since your good buddy Dave Malpass will be looking for work, you could hire him, then you might need the space.

    Of course that would give him a chance to signal the return of the bull.

  47. Lars commented on Mar 16

    Barry, buy the company for the price of the building, you could manage it into profits, unlike the current owners.

  48. Ross commented on Mar 16

    Chilly Sunday morn. Sitting and watching a classic film on IFC. “The Seventh Seal” 1956 with Max von Sydow.

    It reminds me that the Fed is playing chess with Death.

    Oh, and just now they are burning an inocent Witch……

  49. Maximo commented on Mar 16


    I hope you are correct about the price of oil!

  50. Maximo commented on Mar 16


    Very good point.

  51. Bob A commented on Mar 16

    Sunday afternoon. Bear just sold to JPM for $2/share. Looks like you weren’t too far off the mark.

  52. wunsacon commented on Mar 17

    >> “The Seventh Seal” 1956 with Max von Sydow.



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