- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2008

President Bush this morning urged calm in the face of roiling global financial markets, as Asian and European stocks tumbled in reaction to yesterdays government-backed rescue of Bear Stearns, a top U.S. investment firm.

The United States is on top of the situation, Mr. Bush told reporters, after being briefed at the White House by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

JPMorgan Chase, with the backing of the Federal Reserve, agreed yesterday to buy Bear Stearns for $236 million, or $2 a share, which was down from the investment banks $170 a share price on Friday.

Mr. Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke worked over the weekend to help broker the deal, and Mr. Paulson spoke with the president yesterday afternoon as the agreement was imminent.

The White House scheduled the presidents remarks only this morning, as global markets plunged.

One thing is for certain: we’re in challenging times. But another thing is for certain: that we’ve taken strong and decisive action, Mr. Bush said. The Federal Reserve has moved quickly to bring order to the financial markets.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said that the Feds role in the deal does not amount to a bailout, arguing that Bear Stearns stockholders, not taxpayers, are taking a loss.

The aim of the actions … was to minimize broader market disruptions, Mrs. Perino said. The concern about future market disruptions is real.

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