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Street Fighters: The Last 72 Hours of Bear Stearns, the Toughest Firm on Wall Street

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  468 ratings  ·  51 reviews
The shocking fall of Bear Stearns in March 2008 set off a wave of global financial turmoil that continues to ripple. How could one of the oldest, most resilient firms on Wall Street go so far astray that it had to be sold at a fire sale price? How could the guys who ran Bear so aggressively miscalculate so completely?
In this vivid and dramatic narrative, Kate Kelly takes
Hardcover, 247 pages
Published May 12th 2009 by Portfolio (first published 2009)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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May 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Kind of a Cliff Notes version of William Cohan's book, House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street. But what I liked about it was that it was paced so fast that you are really able to get a sense of the urgency facing the main players at the doomed investment bank.

I think it was Joss Whedon that said about the The Civil War that the reason why we're so interested in The South is because they lost. No one cares about the victors in a struggle, it is the losers with whom w
Jay Rain
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Rating - 9

Any book that you can read in one day has to be ranked at least a 9; Enthralling recap of the last seventy-two hours of Bear Stearns during the precipice of the financial crisis; Blog-like writing is a propos

Appreciate that the focus is on the deal/interactions & less about personality (the right amount of characterization); Faults are pointed out & supported but not dwelt upon - like the Breakfast Club rumour
Bryan Craig
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: business-history
A closer look at the fall of Bear Stearns in March 2008. It's an interesting story. The big take-away: many were in denial about their company until the last moment. ...more
Christopher Brown
Feb 20, 2021 rated it liked it
Solid book but it was clear there was a fair bit of information that wasn't made public and there was some behind the scenes maneuvering at the FRB and JPMorgan. Jimmy Cayne seems to have to criminally mismanaged Bearn Stearns into the ground and comes out looking terrible. Ace Greenberg on the other hand seems to be an honorable guy who was forced out. The key message was and remains the case today, that case is king. ...more
Dan Zwirn
May 16, 2022 rated it really liked it
A short, readable blow-by-blow of the death throes of Bear Stearns and an interesting potential harbinger of what might be in store for some market participants that have indulged in excesses no less extreme than those in the 2008 residential mortgage explosion…
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I don't know anything about finances but the author used such description that it felt like I was there. It was very well written. ...more
Ivan Guan
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting read.
Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There’s not a single likable or even interesting character in this story.
Ethan Lambert
Jan 01, 2021 rated it it was ok
Don't read it. Waste of TIME ...more
Mar 12, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
NF - Last 72 hours of Bear Sterns
Nov 10, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2021
always amazing when an author can turn a fascinating subject into a slog of a read
Maverick Vincent
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kelly's account of the last few desperate days of Bear Stearns is a spectacle of investigative reporting. Her writing is terse, masterful in its pacing, and at times even eloquent and poignant. The descriptions of financial instruments and mechanisms are lucid without being encumbered by needless details such that even casual readers with little to no background in the subject would have little difficulty in understanding the events that unfold in the report. The surgical precision of Kelly's ac ...more
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read this after reading the big short. It was a great followup. This book covers only the last 72 hours of Bear Stearns. It was almost gripping even when you know how it will end. Will they figure out a way to stay afloat? Which deal will they take and why? And it offered such an insight into so many of the personalities at play. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am still amazed at just how quickly and how easily it was for them to go bankrupt. And you wonder, over and over again "Who exactly is to b ...more
Mar 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
I would have to give this book 5 stars for information. If you are like me, you are aware that everything kind of took a dive in 2008 when it came to the economy. However, the first big bond bank to go down was Bear Sterns. Followed shortly by Lehman brothers. This book is about Bear Sterns and the 72 hours it took to collapse.

72 HOURS!! That's it. At the beginning of 72 hours it had almost 20 billion dollars and shares were $57 each. At the end of 3 days it was completely broke and it was sold
Dec 17, 2011 rated it liked it

My Rating – 3/5

Summary –

“Street Fighters” gives a blow by blow account of the last 72 hours of Bear Sterns. The book is an extension of Kelly’s acclaimed series of articles written for The Wall Street Journal.

Review –

Continuing with my latest obsession, this is my fifth consecutive book on 2008 meltdown. Street Fighters recounts the mad scramble at Bear Sterns, considered as the brashest among the Wall Street investment banks to save it from going under. It
Jun 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
...a story of one of the financial firms that failed during the Great Recession. The book focuses mostly on the last hours of Bear Stearns, from Thursday, March 13, 2008 to Sunday March 16, 2008. The fall of Bear Stearns was extremely fast - the issue became critical on late Thursday afternoon, and a hastily arranged shotgun marriage with JP Morgan Chase occurred over the weekend. The book, while it at times reads like a newspaper article, still captures the tension and the personalities during ...more
Jul 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: finance-business
A book written about the last 72 hours before Bear Sterns failed - by Kate Kelly who was The Wall Street Journal's beat journalist covering the events as they were happening in March of 2008. She has captured the culture of the place (Bear known for having PSDs as employees: Poor, smart and having Desire to be rich! unlike other 'lvy league only' kind of street firms), motivations of the cast of characters and stakeholders (Bearn's own employees, FED, Treasury, JP Morgan and other trading counte ...more
Joseph Scavone
May 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
I don't want to come off as a DB but I'm probably going to. I was shocked how little I enjoyed this book. I felt there were some technical errors and wasn't broad enough. The view the reader got was from the top, I feel the author was enthralled with the money and power within the executive floors and missed a huge part of the story. With a title like "Street Fighters" I expected to hear more about, and would have empathized a lot more with the guys in the trenches but cared little about a multi ...more
In the course of 3 days in March 2008, the investment firm Bear Stearns went from the fifth largest investment firm on Wall Street to the brink of bankruptcy. How could a company of such prestige fall so hard in so little time? Kate Kelly, a Wall Street journalist chronicles and explores this event in detail, helping readers understand. In short, Bear Stearns ironically fell due to failures in risk management, a supposed strength of the former investing house. Where banks like Goldman Sachs keep ...more
Jul 09, 2009 rated it liked it
A good little snapshot of the beginning of the 2008 fall of Wall Street. It highlights the personal panic/relief that many employees felt in the last hours of Bear Stearns more so than the greater market machinations. What it really conveys is how absolutely terrifying and crushing it must have felt to have worked at Lehman just prior to its bankruptcy months later (unlike Bear, Lehman didn't get the last minute deal to avoid bankruptcy). Along the same lines, it shows that Paulson, Bernake, and ...more
Jul 15, 2009 rated it liked it
If you want to learn how a cash crunch in 2008 destroyed Bear Stearns, this book will be the text book on the history of it. The author was a wall street journal reporter that documented all of the events of the final 72 hours of Bear Sterns as they were forced into bankruptcy due to a cash crunch as fearful investors pulled cash out of the bank and forced the fire sale to JP Morgan. Great read if you're a finance WONK like me. The book was especially interesting since it got into the personalit ...more
Carl Phillips
Kate Kelly is a writer for The Wall Street Journal. The book grew from a three part series Kelly did for The Wall Street Journal. She details the final, frenzied last three days of Bear Stearns in March 2008. Bear Stearns was the 5th largest investment bank in the country and management was arrogant and greedy. They paid themselves excessive salaries and at times "didn't play nice." I wanted to better understand why the financial crisis happened and this book gave me a better understanding of th ...more
Jul 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do not have any background in finance or investing. However, the author has compiled a very accessible walk-through of the events that lead to the collapse of Bear Sterns. This is no dry time line of economic phenomena. Kate Kelly has taken great pains to show the human side of the people involved (from interrupted birthday celebrations to pot-smoking bridge players). The end of this investment bank is shown to be story of people and personalities and not just evil greedy bankers.
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've always been fascinated by the world of high finance-probably because it has always been enshrouded with mystery. I've never fully understood this boys' club, and while a lot of this went way over my head, Kelly's account of the last 72 hours of Bear Stearns was equally thrilling and informative. I knew the ending, but I read enraptured by the fast paced environment, and think I better understand the bailouts, the declines, the crises. ...more
Jun 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Believe it or not, this was a page-turner; I could hardly put it down, reading one night until 1:30 a.m. Dealing with the kind of money Bear Stearns was dealing with, it's hard for me to comprehend that on the Monday before the weekend detailed in the book, the top management thought they were OK. Beyond belief. ...more
Gil Bradshaw
Nov 09, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a great book, but it is depressing. I think I will enjoy this book more in five years when the recession is over. If I were making beaucoup bucks again like I was in 2008, I probably would have rated this book higher.

I felt like this book was written for the employees of Bear Stearns. Someday someone's ruined career can be explained to their grandchildren by giving them this book.
Jun 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book gives a great perspective into how the financial industry operates and eventually fell. Its a good look into the inter-connectedness of the system and this book and makes it easy to understand for anyone without any previous knowledge of the financial markets.
Jun 16, 2009 added it
A quick read that tells the story of how Bear Stearns failed and was sold over a 72 hour period. What is most interesting is how multi-billion dollar decisions are made by individuals under pressure.
Jun 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
A deep-dive into the last 3 days of Bear Stearns! Pretty freaking wild...if you're into that sort of thing. I think House of Cards might have been better (I didn't read it) because it isn't concentrated on just the final 3 days... ...more
Sep 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
This corporate giant meltdown story, I understand even though I have zero clue as to what exactly Bear Stearns does. I suppose it helped that I imagined Alan Schwartz looked like Bart Bass. I googled the guy. He doesn't. At all. But great book, just the same. ...more
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Kelly, Kate, 1975- (from Library of Congress)

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