John Quiggin puts JP Morgan's purchase of Bear Stearns in context:
It’s just been announced that JP Morgan will buy Bear Stearns for $2 a share, implying a value of about $250 million. Given that the company headquarters is said to be worth about $1.2 billion, that gives the BS banking business a value of negative $1 billion. And that’s only after the Fed agreed to take on $30 billion worth of toxic waste from the BS portfolio, politely described as “less-liquid assets.”
That's quite the bargain, though of course one needs to wonder if the headquarters building at 383 Madison Avenue could really sell for $1.2 billion in the current real estate market. According to The Wall Street Journal about a third of BS is owned by its employees, at least some of whom have presumably seen a very healthy chunk of their savings wiped out as BS shares declined from $170 in January '07 to $2 today. Looks like they probably won't be the last big firm to go under in this mess.