This is a rush transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," March 22, 2008.
PAUL GIGOT, FOX HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," don't call it a bail out. What exactly did the government do for Bear Stearns and what are the risks? We explain.
The Supreme Court hears arguments in a landmark gun rights case. Which way are the justices leaning? And why has it caused a rift inside the Bush administration?
Shopping around for a new religion? You are not alone. Just in time for Easter, results of a new survey on faith in America.
But first, these headlines.
GIGOT: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
Was it a bail out? That's what some people are calling the Federal Reserve-mediated sale of Bears Stearns to JP Morgan-Chase this week. At $2 a share maybe it was less a bail out than a Fed-backed fire sale, proving some banks are not too big to fail after all. But the deal did raise new questions about the government shoring up the struggling credit markets.
Joining the panel this week, "Wall Street Journal" columnist and deputy editor Dan Henninger, columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady and, in Washington, senior economics writer, Steve Moore.
Mary, well, Bear Stearns was worth billions of dollars a week ago. This weekend it sold for $236 million, a measly two bucks a share. Do you think Bears Stearns shareholders think this was a bail out?
MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY, COLUMNIST: Somehow I doubt it. I think what happened here is the Fed was nervous over the weekend about what would happen to Bear Stearns if some action wasn't taken before the opening on Monday. So they have sat down with all potential buyers, which turned out to be really one person, Jaime Diamond from JP Morgan. And he said, I will take it for $two a share but you have to take this $30 billion in mortgage- backed securities that I don't want to have.
GIGOT: Which are dicey paper, in the current environment.
And do put taxpayers at some risk by taking on the $30 billion — Dan?
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Yes, it does. And there is amidst all of this crisis and panic there is a political component. Certainly, what we discussed here is what the Fed tried to do to prevent systemic risks, runs on other banks. But Congress has....
GIGOT: The whole financial system.
HENNINGER: The whole financial system.
GIGOT: Kind of breaking down in a sort of contagion.
GIGOT: That was the real fear, was it not?
When you talked about what the Federal Reserve was about, you would have a shutdown of credit that would seep into the larger economy and hurt all of us.