University of Chicago Magazine May/June ’08
Volume 100, Issue 4
By Amy Braverman Puma
When financial consultant Janet Tavakoli talks, people listen.
At least, they should.
In May 2007 BusinessWeek reporter Matthew Goldstein called
Janet Tavakoli, hoping the Chicago-based consultant could help
sort out an SEC filing from Everquest Financial—a new firm
underwritten by Bear Stearns. “I was really busy,” recalls
Tavakoli, MBA’81, “and I said, ‘Go away.’” Goldstein
persisted, and finally she read the filing. “Actually,
Matt,” she told him, “this is a huge story.”
Goldstein’s May 11, 2007, article was the first to question
Bear Stearns, noting the move looked like an attempt “to
pawn off risky assets [from two hedge funds] onto retail investors.” It
quoted Tavakoli calling the firm’s close ties to Everquest
a “moral hazard.” Soon lenders pulled their credit
lines to the two Bear Stearns hedge funds involved; by June the
IPO was withdrawn, and the company sparked a market panic when
those funds collapsed. After announcing the first loss in Bear
Stearns’s eight-decade history in January 2008, in March,
with help from the Federal Reserve, it was bought by JPMorgan
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