Monday, March 17, 2008

Value of a dollar?

If you are paid in or have bank accounts valued in U.S. dollars, the news that Bear Stearns was sold for $2 per share -- in a deal backed with $30 billion [edit: I originally mistyped "million" here] of your tax dollars -- should be extremely worrying.

This means that Bear Stearns is valued at $236 million. Last Monday, when it was trading at $70/share, it was valued at $8.26 billion. In the span of a week, $8 billion dollars effectively vanished into thin air -- in other words, investors overvalued BSC by 3500%.

If we were talking about Moe's Junkyard and Hot Dog Stand and other places with shoddy or non-existent accounting, nobody would care. But we're talking about a bank, whose finances were tracked by other banks.

This is like going to the ATM, withdrawing $20, and then trying to buy lunch -- only to find you can't afford it because there's only 57¢ in your wallet. Or going to the gas station and finding that the price of gas has risen from $3.50/gallon to $122.50/gallon. All stuff which is supposed to be unthinkable.

Yet it's here. And I'm worried.

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