The fact that a major investment bank could reach the verge of buckling -- and be sold at such a discount -- sent dismay through Wall Street and beyond.
"One reaction is shock that a company that reaffirmed its book value at around $84 on Wednesday can be worth $2 per share four days later on Sunday," said Deutsche Bank analyst Mike Mayo.
The price represents roughly 1 percent of what the investment bank was worth just 16 days ago.
The financial industry wants to know exactly how badly Bear Stearns bet on mortgage-backed investments. Unwinding the nation's fifth-biggest investment houses should provide some insight into what other financial institutions might have on their books.
Wall Street analysts say the rescue bid was more than just saving one of the world's largest investments banks -- it was a prop for the U.S. economy and the global financial system.