Much has been written about the Bear Stearns meltdown, and what it says about the state of banking, the instability of the markets, the fragility of the overall economy, the need for regulation, the power of the Fed, and the obliviousness of the Bush Administration to the approaching financial Katrina. But little has been said about this, as reported by the New York Times:
More so than other firms on Wall Street, Bear had encouraged its employees, from secretaries to top executives, to be long-term holders in the company’s stock, and the employees own over 30 percent of the company.
As was the case with Enron, a lot of innocent employees are seeing their financial futures disintegrate.
“The stability of your world is shattered,” said Ari Kiev, a psychiatrist who counsels financial executives. “You are angry at the firm for failing you. But it’s more than money. It’s the shame and embarrassment. Now the question is, can you pay for the house and do you give up the second car?”
People. Families. Lives. Devastated. And the buyout has yet to be approved, and may not be.
But to most Bear employees, many who face the prospect of not only losing their jobs but of a retirement without savings, such a thought is perhaps too elusive to contemplate.
“Basically we’re all wondering first, if we’ll keep our jobs, second, if we’ll get severance if we don’t,” said an investment banker on a cigarette break outside Bear’s headquarters, declining to give his name. “And then we’re hoping that Lehman won’t go under because then there will be way too many bankers looking for jobs.”
And not just bankers. Employees from all levels. Behind the headlines are the faces of human beings.