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bear-sterns

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The government spread out a nice, soft net to catch the collapsing financial firm Bear Stearns. But if you're a little guy who gets in trouble, expect to meet up with a somewhat harder surface.

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The mortgage crisis has claimed another corporate victim. Bear Stearns, one of the largest financial institutions in the world, has been bought for a piddling $236 million. The company was valued at $3.5 billion just a few days ago, and $20 billion a little more than a year ago.

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