The morning news is terrifying even before the ominous opening of U.S. markets today, and was also scary hours ago before overseas markets opened and U.S. stock futures fell sharply. The bankruptcy at Lehman Brothers, the takeover of Merrill Lynch and the plea by insurance giant AIG for $40 billion in federal aid made for scary front pages (pictured, click for larger image) and heated chatter on CNBC. And no one wasted any time telling everyone how bad things really are. The "American financial system was shaken to its core," the Wall Street Journal said, warning of a "crisis on Wall Street." Other media outlets were scarcely more comforting:

  • The Financial Times wrote of "financial chaos ... high drama ... [that] could lead to one of the most radical reshapings in Wall Street history.... [and has produced] increasingly desperate talks over the... state of the financial sector."
  • The Journal added that "Lehman's collapse will send deep and painful ripple effects across the markets."
  • The Times: "One of the most dramatic days in Wall Street history.... humbling moves which reshape the landscape of American finance."
  • Andy Lynch, a fund manager at Schroder Investment Management in London, in the Times: "Today is the day historians will be writing about in years to come... The only thing that this comes near to during my career is Russia defaulting in 1989. But that was much shorter in time and the world economy was in a healthier state."
  • Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin on CNBC: Said he's running on two hours sleep. Also, while today's events might seem "horrific," "you'll look back and this will be a good thing," this consolidation.
  • Someone else on CNBC: There are only two large investment banks standing.
  • Another CNBC talking head: "I don't see us emerging from this anytime soon."