peHUB First Read

Some links to kick off your Monday:

* JPMorgan is in talks to quintuple its offer for Bear Stearns, in order to pacify shareholders like Joe Lewis. Just a testiment to how far Bear has fallen, when $8 per share can pacify anyone.

* Are VCs threatening lawsuits to keep their reputations untarnished on TheFunded? Matt Marshall has the evidence.

* Sign #149 of a recession: Pawn shop business is booming.

* The X Prize Foundation has retreated from space to terra firma — teaming with Progressive Insurance to award $10 million for the creation of a marketable vehicle that can get 100 MPG.

* We already knew this intuitively, but Dealogic confirms that sovereign wealth funds have stepped up their investments in U.S. financial institutions.

* SEC chief Chris Cox says that the Bear Stearns collapse was caused by a lack of confidence, not a lack of capital.

* Has VC-backed Huffington Post become more  popular than The Drudge Report? Some recent traffic data indicates that it has.