The Lost Bank

The Lost Bank

The Story of Washington Mutual-- the Biggest Bank Failure in American History

Book - 2012
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Based on reporting for which the author was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Gerald Loeb Award, this book traces the rise and spectacular fall of Washington Mutual.

During the most dizzying days of the financial crisis, Washington Mutual, a bank with hundreds of billions of dollars in its coffers, suffered a crippling bank run. The story of its final, brutal collapse in the autumn of 2008, and its controversial sale to JPMorgan Chase, is an astonishing account of how one bank lost itself to greed and mismanagement, and how the entire financial industry--and even the entire country-- lost its way as well.

Kirsten Grind's The Lost Bank is a magisterial and gripping account of these events, tracing the cultural shifts, the cockamamie financial engineering, and the hubris and avarice that made this incredible story possible. The men and women who become the central players in this tragedy-- the regulators and the bankers, the home buyers and the lenders, the number crunchers and the shareholders--are heroes and villains, perpetrators and victims, often switching roles with one another as the drama unfolds.

As a reporter at the time for the Puget Sound Business Journal, Grind covered a story set far from the epicenters of finance and media. It happened largely in places such as the suburban homes of central California and the office buildings of Seattle, but Grind covered the story from the beginning, and the clarity and persistence of her reporting earned her many awards, including being named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Gerald Loeb Award. She takes readers into boardrooms and bedrooms, revealing the power struggles that pitted regulators at the Office of Thrift Supervision and the FDIC against one another and the predatory negotiations of investment bankers and lawyers who enriched themselves during the bank's rise and then devoured the decimated bank in its final days.

Written as compellingly as the finest fiction, The Lost Bank makes it clear that the collapse of Washington Mutual was not just the largest bank failure in American history. It is a story of talismanic qualities, reflecting the incredible rise and the precipitous collapse of not only an institution but of trust, fortunes, and the marketplaces for risk across the world.
Publisher: New York ; Toronto : Simon & Schuster, c2012.
Edition: 1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed.
ISBN: 9781451617924
Branch Call Number: 332. 320973 GRI
Characteristics: viii, 389 p. ; 25 cm.

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mvdunbar
Jan 08, 2015

This is like a Greek tragedy: You have the older wiser king replaced by the younger, flashier prince. Then fate catches up with the prince due to his pride.
Great detail, but a bit slow at points. Some diagrams and pictures would help.

s
StarGladiator
May 21, 2013

[UPDATE: Oh lordy! Jenny Durkan, who was US attorney at that time and refused to go after the super-criminals at WaMu, is now running for mayor of Seattle - - heaven help us!!!]
[Ms. Keysha Cooper, who was fired from WaMu for refusing to OK fraudulent mortgage loans, had one of those $800,000 loans later analyzed - - turned out it was not a house at all, simply a mediocre empty lot!] Oh, wow! Does this author ever soft peddle everything! We know from the congressional investigation into WaMu that the senior executive management kept a black list of honest real estate assessors that weren't ever to be hired or contracted out to (meaning they only gave employment to the dishonest ones! ! !), plus we know that when senior mortgage underwriter, Keysha Cooper, refused to OK fraudulent loans, she was fired! Negative on this apology for utterly corrupt, amoral executives! [So only one person (senior underwriter) was fired for honesty at WaMu? So only one person was fired for honesty at Citi? So only one person (trader) was fired for honesty at Merrill Lynch? This breakdown is the greatest indictment of Americans in the financial services and banking industry - - 100% fraud-based crooks!] Publishers Weekly reviewer says: Grind raises disturbing questions about how JPMorgan benefited from the FDIC's forcing a possibly salvageable WaMu into receivership... But does Grind ever answer them?

s
Spacegopher
Apr 07, 2013

Informative, understandable, and believable.
Slow moving at the start, and the writing style is very plain.
She was mostly fair, but I thought she tended to excuse the WaMu executives a little too much.
The reasoning seemed to be sure they made a lot of bad loans, deceived a lot of borrowers, and misrepresented the bundles of loans they packaged, but they could have survived if only the regulators hadn't shut them down because of lack of liquidity.

r
rene1951
Sep 25, 2012

And not knowing who to bribe (or blackmail) in Washington. Thus no bailout for them.

a
adelaideblair
Aug 22, 2012

This is the best book I have read all year. If you are at all interested in our recent economic downfall, this book is not to be missed. Compelling and interesting, it explains the downfall of WAMU and the impact its executives and the government regulators had on the situation.

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