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PLANO, Texas — When the news that investment icon JPMorgan Chase had stepped in to buy a struggling Bear Stearns Co. came across the wire on a late Sunday night, markets around the world braced for the fallout as investors scrambled for cover.

On March 16, Bear Stearns, most recently the fifth largest securities firm in the United States and now one of many casualties of the subprime mortgage fallout and subsequent credit crisis, reached a deal with long-time rival JPMorgan for a fire sale of roughly $237 million. This time last year, Bear Stearns was a multi-billion dollar entity. On March 14, the Federal Reserve used a provision that had not been seen since the Great Depression to give emergency credit to Bear Stearns to help it stave off insolvency.

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