What is Bear Stearns?

Legal Definition
The Bear Stearns Companies, Inc. was a New York-based global investment bank, securities trading and brokerage firm that failed in 2008 as part of the global financial crisis and recession, and was subsequently sold to JPMorgan Chase. Its main business areas before its failure were capital markets, investment banking, wealth management and global clearing services, and it was heavily involved in the subprime mortgage crisis.

In the years leading up to the failure, Bear Stearns was heavily involved in securitization and issued large amounts of asset-backed securities, which in the case of mortgages were pioneered by Lewis Ranieri, "the father of mortgage securities". As investor losses mounted in those markets in 2006 and 2007, the company actually increased its exposure, especially the mortgage-backed assets that were central to the subprime mortgage crisis. In March 2008, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York provided an emergency loan to try to avert a sudden collapse of the company. The company could not be saved, however, and was sold to JP Morgan Chase for $10 per share, a price far below its pre-crisis 52-week high of $133.20 per share, but not as low as the $2 per share originally agreed upon by Bear Stearns and JP Morgan Chase.

The collapse of the company was a prelude to the risk management meltdown of the investment banking industry in the United States and elsewhere that culminated in September 2008, and the subsequent global financial crisis of 2008โ€“2009. In January 2010, JPMorgan ceased using the Bear Stearns name.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
A bank that closed in New York. It was a global investor before 2008. JP morgan chase bought them out.