Bear Stearns and Two Scary Little Words

Something very strange happened the other night on The Charlie Rose Show. It was a small moment but a very telling one. The show aired on 3/14/08. Charlie’s guest was Floyd Norris, the chief financial correspondent of The New York Times. Mr. Norris was discussing the Bear Stearns meltdown. Part of what he was saying, a very small but significant part, was seemingly censored. I repeat, seemingly. The sound drop-out was very clean and it didn’t sound like a technical snafu. So, my husband and I were very curious. What could a financial writer have said that would need to be bleeped? We had TIVOed the show, enabling us to play it back (many times) to try to figure out what was bleeped. We finally were able to read his lips and were stunned to learn what two words had been censored:
“Bank Run.”
He was talking about the fact that a rumor had started about the imminent collapse of Bear Stearns and how sometimes a rumor spreads like wildfire among panicky investors. This is a direct quote from what Mr. Norris said. “If you believed Bear Stearns financial statements, they’re worth a lot of money. The trouble is right now they can’t monetize that. They’ve got a real liquidity crisis. What they confronted this week was an old fashioned —- —.” And those two scary words, ‘bank run’, had been bleeped. BANK RUN. So, has it come to this? Is our media censoring financial writers when they tell it like it is? I suppose the reality of what is happening in our financial markets is terrifying enough without tossing out incendiary words like ‘bank run’. Mr. Norris went on to say that what had happened in this case was that the rumor of Bear Stearns imminent collapse hastened its downfall. Prophesy became reality almost overnight. Perhaps Mr. Norris had asked for those two offending words to be bleeped, not wanting to throw another log on the bonfire raging throughout Wall Street and the rapidly plunging economic outlook.
It does makes you wonder. Was the bleep accidental, pure coincidence or are we being protected from even worse financial news? The government is bailing out Bear Stearns. And Lehman Brothers seems poised for the next bailout. In truth, all of us are bailing out Bear Stearns. Is it possible this is happening without our being fully informed of how bleak the financial picture is for all of us middle class taxpayers? Once again we’re being asked to pick up the tab for the risky, reckless maneuvers of financial experts who just didn’t ‘see’ this collapse coming. Amazing.
Realizing that those two words were probably censored felt like a strange dream. I wonder if anyone else picked up on that.

Jan Bina, Blogger for In the Trenches Productions

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Published in: on March 17, 2008 at 10:06 pm  Comments (1)  
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