WSJ: One Friday in March, with investment bank Bear Stearns Cos. teetering toward collapse, the chieftains of U.S. financial regulation dialed into a 5 a.m. conference call to craft a bailout plan. When they were done, the Treasury secretary informed the president. The head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York called Bear Stearns.
Christopher Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, didn’t call anyone. Though the SEC was Bear Stearns’s regulator, he didn’t take part in the meeting.
In an interview, Mr. Cox said the time of the call changed overnight and no one told him. SEC staff members were on the early call and Mr. Cox says he was involved in calls later that day and throughout the weekend with his peers…
The next night, as Fed and Treasury bosses negotiated a bailout, Mr. Cox was at a birthday party. He was missing from a Sunday conference call announcing the sale of Bear Stearns and the Fed’s plan to lend funds to investment banks. The following weekend, he left town for a family vacation.
Cox and his colleagues go on to stress that the SEC didn’t need to be that involved in the Bear Stearns situation and that he checked in frequently from the Caribbean.
Upon his return, however, Cox was quick to publicly pardon Bear Stearns CEO Alan Schwartz, who some assumed had lied on CNBC about Bear Stearns’ financial condition two days before the firm’s collapse.
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