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Wall Street

Congress stunned by late-night meeting with regulators

Congress was given a choice. Do something, or face global economic meltdown.

Reports are coming in today from the New York Times of the late night meeting between the Fed, Treasury, SEC and the leaders of Congress.

As Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, put it Friday morning on the ABC program “Good Morning America,” the congressional leaders were told “that we’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally.”

“What you heard last evening,” he added, “is one of those rare moments, certainly rare in my experience here, is Democrats and Republicans deciding we need to work together quickly.”

You do have to wonder if this was an example of coordinated financial terrorism.

Russian stock exchange halts trading amid chaos

That’s what you get for invading your neighbor.

Regulators halted trading at midday (9am BST) on Russia’s main stock indices – the rouble-denominated Micex and the dollar-denominated RTS – following a similar suspension yesterday.

Russia has been badly affected by the global financial crisis, and has suffered as stocks have sunk in Europe and Asia. But it has also been hit by the rapid fall in oil prices and the flight of foreign investors since the war in Georgia.

Of course had we not bailed out AIG last night, we could have seen something similar in the US, UK, Tokyo etc as a number of institutions fell apart. I was watching shares in my local bastard monopoly electric company Consolidated Energy Group (CEG) yesterday. CEG was tied to Lehman and rumors had some exposure to AIG that would have dragged them through the mud. Their company, which has about $15 billion worth of nuclear power plants suffered from some massive shorts and saw the stock drop from about 60 to 13 in a matter of minutes, then up again, then down. It was really strange.
More excitement today as I deal with a quick sale of Washington Mutual stock (WM).

How Wall Street was told Lehman was going to fail

Interesting fly on the wall story in the Wall Street Journal about the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his top New York lieutenant, Timothy Geithner, summoned some 30 Wall Street executives for a 6 p.m. Friday meeting at the Fed’s offices in Lower Manhattan.

“There is no political will for a federal bailout,” Mr. Geithner told the assembled executives, according to a person familiar with the matter. “Come back in the morning and be prepared to do something.”

That was pretty much it. The NY crowd had to sort it out on their own. The article has some more details and is interesting on how the Fed and Wall Street interact.