Once again you've shown your financial cluelessness. The FDIC is on the hook for $143 billion only if WAMU has $0 in assets, which clearly isn't the case, even if you write their mortgage investments way down. Stop fear-mongering.
You should also read this.
But don't let me stop you from spouting off on things you know nothing about.
@1 you leave Jonathan alone, and learn something about the difference between balances and cash flow before you pretend to know anything about what's going on yourself.
If the depositors at WaMu make a run on it, then those deposits could would become immediate liabilities, while it's assets, whatever they are worth, would not produce much significant immediate cash-flow, forcing the FDIC to borrow to cover deposits. THAT's the point.
Kinaidos - Actually I've spent some time looking at their financials, can you say the same?
Given that the FDIC has taken over there will only be a run on the bank if people like Golob keep scaring people into thinking they're not going to get their money.
Cute the way he edits his own posts after-the-fact to address issues that people bring up and make himself appear a lot more reasonable than he is.
Um. I have a day job. I'm writing this as quickly as I can.
Yes, the first versions missed some of the nuances you bring up. I also, in bold in the original post told people not to panic and their deposits are insured.
I can only write so fast, particularly when I'm reading.
God. I've just read the comments and am realizing that the worst things you can be to some people is right about their mistakes. What are you @1, @2 and @4? WaMu executives?
Thank you kinaidos.
The legal details of the transfer are murky and quite probably not full settled yet. What is important to WaMu depositors, though, is that their bank will continue to function like a bank (clearing checks, accepting deposits, paying withdrawls). They will not have to fill out some FDIC form and wait weeks for some burocrat to process it before accessing their money.
You might also have waited the 50 minutes it took for this report to appear.
Look, you're a journalist and as such it's your shtick to make people care about this kind of thing by playing up two angles: 1)it's happening to you, here and 2) it's the end of the world. I get it. It's just too bad that reality doesn't want to cooperate with that particular narrative.
When this whole financial nightmare is resolved, it's definitely going to cost you and me and the average citizen, it's just going to do so in the totally boring way of raising everyone's taxes and increasing unemployment.
The gov't will not let retail depositors lose money covered by the FDIC. Point blank if it comes to it, we will print money to avoid that. More likely though treasury securities will be sold to cover any need amounts.
I predict downtown will be overwhelmed by drunk bankers tomorrow afternoon.
@5 No offense, I mean I really love your writings on science, but this shit is important. With an audience comes a responsibility for due diligence and accuracy. There is enough misinformation, intentional or otherwise floating around, and enough people panicking, without adding further fuel to the fire.
Here's my best guess as to what's going down. JP Morgan will take on WaMu's liabilites (*buying their deposits* is how it's described which is a funny way to describe it). They will be paid by taking on some of WaMu's branches as assets.
So, JP Morgan is NOT buying WaMu.
WaMu is being seized by the FDIC, and it's assets are being parcelled out as compensation for JP Morgan and possibly others how will take over it's liabilities. As of tomorrow morning WaMu will cease to exist as anything but the name that describes the assets that the feds are spinning down into saleable goods.
MOST or at least MANY WaMu employees probably have little to worry about right now. Assets here mean going business concerns and that means employees doing their normal jobs. Longterm though it's not good news.
This is pretty close to a worst case scenario for WaMu employees I suspect, well next to giant wamu employee eating blancmange.
Fair enough. I'm as close to a financial analyst as anyone who writes for the Stranger.
I still defend even the earliest versions of this post--covering an ongoing and messy event--as having a clear statement that deposits are insured by the FDIC. For the weeks I've written about WaMu, I've never advised people to leave the bank. I've consistently suggested:
1. People have a small cushion of cash, perhaps a little larger than usual, to cover a few days expenses.
2. Better documentation of their account than usual, printing out online statements and keeping them somewhere safe.
I did my best. There are a ton of places online and offline to read about this. I think I served my audience well, but if you have specific things you think I should've done better, email me at email@example.com or comment and I'll always acknowledge and correct.
Grrr, these posts by Jonathon are so frustrating. I keep thinking "good info, wow is that fucked up, hey... wait a minute... that makes no sense..." and then I scroll back up and see his name. Grr
In particular, check out this howler:
"the Federal government has the assets of WaMu. What are those? Whatever cash WaMu had on hand. Us as customers (recruiting new customers costs money.) The physical banks and ATMs. And a quarter trillion dollars in mortgage-backed securities (that no investors are willing to purchase, beyond cents on a dollar.) "
Ouch. In making his case, he neglects to mention that WaMu has investments other than mortgage-backed securities, that there are some grades of mortgage-backed securities that are doing just fine in the market, and that WaMu owns a lot of its real estate.
Are you really this clueless, Jonathon, or just so much more into sensationalism than accuracy that you're intentionally presenting half-truths because the full truth is only "really bad" rather than "completely outrageous"?
I'm calling WM a buy.
This JPMorgan looks pretty cool too.
I'm glad I left my money in Wamu because now I'm part of JP Morgan...one of the remaining solid commercial banks. I hope I can order new checks soon.
The other thing is that if you Google WAMU and JP Morgan, you'll see that they've been discussing mergers since 2006!
Could you do a post comparing local alternatives? Seattle Met, Boeing, Verity, Watermark...?
Jonathan, here's an idea - don't write about things you don't understand.
Who cares if you're the best qualified at The Stranger. I think we all know that's not saying much.
Telling people to print their account statements is the funniest thing I read all day.
Anyone reading SLOG for financial advice gets what they deserve anyway. But thanks for the chuckles.. this is truly a classic.
Wow, my mortgage is through WaMu. I've been faithfully making payments for over 10 years - I wonder what this means for people like me?
gee I thought WaMu had solid Northwest virtue backing them up, unlike those east coast monsters JP Morgan or Chase or that horrible Californian B of A.
Who's next to fail, Bartell's?
The Bon Marche???????
Mom @18, nothing changes. You still make your payments to WaMu, to the normal address, until you get a letter from JPM a year from now that tells you to make your checks out to JPM with a new address. Systems won't be merged until "late 2010".
good thing we couldn't short WaMu into the ground and at least hedge our risk. the stock market isn't a disease, it's a symptomatic indicator.
Is anyone really going to tell me anything different? The importance of stock price doesn't mean much outside of the sentiment that investors have. Investors react to information they receive. Credit rating doesn't hinge on stock price - they have a corellation but aren't indicative of what the other one will be. To presume the opposite would lead to ridiculous conclusions that aren't supported by evidence. It also presumes that any information made public wouldn't thusly be factored into the stock anyway, nor be affirmed by the rating agencies.
and for the most part, rating agencies report the past findings and thusly would be out of date of current stock prices. it's easy to see how a specious casual relationship can be drawn between the two though; "The stock went down and so did the rating, therefore the rating is influence by stock price, and not some third factor". Keep in mind that there have been instances where credit ratings were wrong,
Is there the ability to game the system? Sure; In theory you could purchase tons of CDS which make stock investors nervous. Then you short as much of the stock as possible. But the biggest risk to this scheme is what if you pick a company that isn't in risk of default? Well then you're fucked up the ass holding worthless swaps, getting short squeezed, and if you're really risky, you did this leveraged. The main point here is that one scheming in this manor won't be effective unless there is some actual basis on which to start the scheme.
And there are some inherent problems with using CDSs as a basis for company health too. They are mostly illiquid obligations. There is a huge market for them that often outsizes the debt they are derivatives of.
The idea that I just want to put to rest is that stock prices, CDS spreads and credit ratings don't shift without there being a reason for it; either tangible information or the risk of uncertainty.
The cable news is saying the bailout deal is being held up by the conservative house republicans. They had a big showdown in a meeting at the White House and basically said they aren't going for the big Paulson plan. Meanwhile over on Fox News, Dick Morris was saying this is McCain's big play -- he's going to make the Democrats cave in the way they always do and then go to the debate on Friday or whenever and say "I stopped it from being a $700B tax hike" whatever.
Standing up to Obama, seizing the issue etc.
This is because there is massive grass roots resistance to the "Wall St. bailout."
Note: this is informative only. I support the Obama position on this, though I'd like to hear him talk more about that equity stake.
Jost thought I would mention this as it appears to be shaping up into McCain's big play for a game changer.
(Note, too, that the Dems don't need the GOP votes to pass the plan they got accord on with the pres., but as usual, they can be counted on to be too wussy in their frantic desire for political cover and demanding that they get 100 Republicans in the house to go along. Damn them. They should just pass the plan they want and take the heat or the credit. Dick Morris' point was that McCain/GOP House members will force the Dems to water it down or change it and thus have McCain emerge as the "leader" on this issue...whether this will happen or work I don't know but clearly it's not just some wild McCain frantic fit...there's a strategy going on.....).
Yr. most humble correspondent,
@12 Its cool. Hell I'm an amateur economist too. You are one of the better and most responsive slog posters around.
And you know what really pisses me off about this scapegoating of shorting is that A. It created a false bounce at the end of last week due to people covering B. people bought on this false bounce and now lost their entire balance on it.
if shorts were allowed to do their job, then wamu and other financials would have never bounced back. owners of the stock could have demanded ridiculous premiums to borrow their shares for shorting and at least hedged the risk of wipeout.
JG, most of us are just reg'lar folks who want to know how our checking and savings accounts are affected and I think you did a great job of explaining that. Most of us don't give a rat's ass about the mix of investments, assets, and liabilities Washington Mutual may have had. We just wanted to know what's going on with our folding money. Thank you for dumbing it down in a clear manner. For those who are looking for a professional economist's assessment of things and are disappointed they aren't getting that, why are you looking here?
Ok asshats, you all need to settle down.
@1 - assets such as ...Preferred shares in Freddie and Fannie? I know, all those HELOC's & refi's on the books. The rule of survival right now in banking is simple - capital is king. WaMu can claim assets out their ass, but it doesn't matter because no one knows what the fuck those assets are worth.
I AM A MAN I KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT BANKING AND CAGE FIGHTING AND I CAN SPOT A FAKE BOOBY 400 FEET AWAY. CEASE WRITING ABOUT THESE THINGS IMMEDIATELY OR I WILL BE FORCED TO DISCLOSE THAT I HAVE A 14" LONG PENIS (LIMP)!!!!!
Let me say straight out that Jonathon is smart and, for the most part, well-informed. And in all of his financial writings he's gotten everything mostly (~90%) correct. So he deserves serious credit for that.
What I've objected to is the way that he jumps to the most catastrophic possible outcome each and every time. And this one was the most egregious because if he had waited just one hour he would have found out that his doomsaying was all for naught.
The situation is shitty and frightening enough without jumping to conclusions. Why not just report that? You do your self a serious disservice by always predicting the worst and being proven wrong. Chicken little, anyone?
Screw the bailout. What's so bad about a recession, assuming we've got Obama in the whitehouse. Recessions are only bad if you've got plutocrats in power. If you don't know what a plutocrat is, it's a pale aging flip-flopping good for nothing has-been who has learned to lie with those who butter his bread, and if you've watched Last Tango in Paris, you know exactly what that can mean. (I apologize to the three of you who are know imagining an aging Brando sodomizing Palin's aged running mate. Hey but at least they will always have Paris.)
Can anyone actually confirm that the FDIC "makes you fill out forms"? Because my understanding is that isn't what happens at all, and yet people like Golob keep repeating lines like this to scare people.
Not that it matters in this case since it's owned by Chase, but a little fact-checking maybe?
@30 - don't worry about deposits right now - the last thing JPM or their subsidiariaries are going to do is to spook their depositors. Business as usual for little guys for the indefinite future.
Here's a video bye-bye to WaMu:
It's a depression era fiddle tune from Kentucky. It was a classic performed by Andy Palmer of Jimmie Johnson's String Band. But somehow this pathetic geeky version seems more appropriate.
Anyone remember SeaFirst? Seattle seems to have a knack for accumulating towers named after busted banks.
Note the OTS (Office of Thrift Supervision)'s note on the seizure -
"Pressure on WaMu intensified in the last three months as market conditions worsened. An outflow of deposits began on September 15, 2008, totaling $16.7 billion."
In other words, there was a run on the bank, helped along by people like Golob making people think they might lose their money (by repeatedly emphasizing how much the FDIC had and how much WAMU had in deposits, as the FDIC wouldn't pay out 100%) and telling people that if the bank was seized they would have to fill out forms in order to get their money back.
Granted, Stranger readers in total probably had $6,321.34 in WAMU deposits, but it didn't help.
yes the local WaMU angle is interesting but back to the overall finance sector crisis:
"Democrats could decide to go ahead with their plan without Republican support. While this would ensure passage, it would essentially saddle Democrats with responsibility for a bailout package that has stirred up strong resistance among both Democrat and Republican voters -- with elections just weeks away.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, earlier in the week said she wouldn't push the bill without Republican support."
Wow, what great party leaders we have. They will take action, if they get the other party to agree to it.
Seems like a time for new leadership. where is our Democratic leadership? Any Democratic leaders out there, or do they all think they should only do what they get their GOPmaster Masters and Lords to agree to?
Any Democratic leader out there......? Calling all leaders.......
Ironic that it's the Democrats teaming up with the Bush WH in favor of a plan, with the House Republicans opposing their President's plan.
PC, the point is that this is going to cost the taxpayers hugely and if the Democrats pass it without the Republicans they'll use it against the Democrats for the next 20 years. And effectively too, given the mood of the country against the bail-out.
I am a little guy who knows next to nothing about the financial world and i chose to keep my wamu account based in part by golob's reporting. He didn't freak me out, man.
Since the top 10% pay about 80% of income tax doesn't that mean that those that profitted the most from the market will pay the bulk of this?
We could have even a higher progressive tax and of course the rich make too much but the whining that the tax payers will be picking up the bill just doesn't cut it.
I wonder if there will be any criminal investigation into Kerry Killinger. He's on the Safeco board, too.
@19 -- B of A is NOT a Californian bank, any more than WaMu is/was. The original B of A (a San Francisco bank, yes; founded as the Bank of Italy) was bought by Nations Bank of Charlotte, NC, who promised that they would maintain the same respect for their customers, commercial integrity, and community service standards as B of A always had -- and then promptly trashed their empty promises, re-branded the combined banks, and bullied their way through the Western half of the country, which was all they wanted: a foothold in the West. What is now known as Bank of America bears no resemblance whatsoever to the Bank of America that Nations Bank bought and destroyed.
@19, BAC hasn't had a California HQ since 1998. Your a decade behind, you dipstick.
Why do posters keep responding to the PC trollbot? Boredom?
@20, nothing in any of the WaMu coverage mentions who exactly takes over the mortgages -- it doesn't seem to be JP Morgan Chase, though...
tictoc @ 35 - same here, no panic. I left my money in there partly based on Golob's explanation. I can't help but think the angry people in this thread are interested parties who are here to perform spin and damage control for their bosses.
From the NYT, which has a fantastic article up right now:
Federal regulators had been trying to broker a deal for Washington Mutual because a takeover by the F.D.I.C. would have dealt a crushing blow to the federal government’s deposit insurance fund. The fund, which stood at $45.2 billion at the end of June, has been severely depleted after suffering a loss from the sudden collapse of IndyMac Bank. Analysts say that a failure of Washington Mutual would have cost the fund as much as $30 billion or more.
That's why I kept bringing up the concerns (not just my concerns) about what a WaMu implosion would mean for the FDIC.
Yes, I started writing about WaMu's troubles around September 15th... when depositors starting pulling out money... because WaMu's bonds were steadily rated down to junk at that point. Respectfully, the bond rating agencies probably have more influence than I in creating a "run."
Ff @ 28: Thank you. That is a fair critique. It was the conflicting reporting--and that WaMu itself didn't know of the situation--that got me a bit spooked around 5:30p.
OK, let's tell some TRUTH.
1. Yes, your individual deposit (checking, savings, CDs, NOT BONDS, NOT STOCKS) is safe for $100,000 per person (unmarried) at WaMu.
2. Your IRA (that part in checking, savings, CDs, NOT BONDS, NOT STOCKS) is safe for $250,000 per person (unmarried) at WaMu.
3. If married, you only get a second coverage if it is IN YOUR NAME ONLY. As in both accounts are in SEPARATE and NOT JOINED names.
4. Just because your money is safe doesn't mean you can access it.
5. If you have automatic deposit and NO MORTGAGE or LOANS that require direct deposit, you would be smart to divert your second paycheck to another financial institution - PREFERABLY A LOCAL CREDIT UNION.
Oh, and don't stop paying your loans or mortgages or bad things WILL HAPPEN.
Alas, poor WAMU.
I didn't take my money out and contribute to the big ol' bank run, I just started putting new money into my new BECU account (born on date: 9-15).
Amazing, I never thought I'd live to see 1929.
Golob--keep all these posts coming (and Dear Science!). You have become one of my favorites on Slog and in the Stranger. Thanks for being willing to distill complex, layered, changing situations into thought-out talking points. V. helpful for those of us that want to be engaged but may be need help getting caught up.
Wow..I really shouldn't have bought the stock last month thinking it was all an overreaction.
Guess its PBR all weekend for me...
Smart move, brent.
Perhaps other comments have already noted this, but one of the write-ups tonight point out a painful reality in this end-game.
It was barely six months ago, if that, when Chase offered $8 per share for WaMu.
But instead of taking the offer from Chase, then-CEO Killinger turned it down in favor of a private-equity capital infusion. Many speculate that Killinger chose this route out of pride and a chance to preserve his job.
1) Killinger was run out of the bank three weeks ago with a $20+ million golden parachute.
2) The private equity investors lose all $7 billion of their investment
3) and, oh yeah, those stocks that so many employees own, which could have been worth $8, are now worthless. Literally worthless.
The coming weeks will bring stories of employees whose life savings have evaporated. Shades of Enron and other tales of brazen greed and pride.
Christ, it's lord of the bloody flies.
Jonathan, for what it's worth, I think your reporting has been and remains superlative in every meaningful respect.
Will @44, your "TRUTH" is seriously lacking. THERE IS NO INTERRUPTION TO DAY TO DAY OPERATIONS. If you had 20,000,000 in your WaMu savings yesterday, you still have 20,000,000 in your WaMu savings today, only now it's backed by WaMu AND JP Morgan capital. There is NO interruption to your accounts, your funds are just as liquid as they were yesterday (although you're now more protected from any run on the WaMu bank). While your statements (and Golob's) about FDIC insurance are factual, it has NO relevance to the action the FDIC took yesterday.
Thanks for your posts on this, Jonathan. The only people to blame for Wamu's demise are the stupid, stupid greedy execs who wanted to make a bunch of money off mortgages. All this "Jonathan (and other journalists) caused a panic" is just bullshit. Wamu has been steadily downgraded for awhile; it just took some time before it was on the local TV news, which probably caused more panic than a few Slog posts.
I didn't close my account but did open a new one (at B of A for now) just in case. Now I realize just how spoiled I was at Wamu - I hope my friendly teller doesn't get laid off!
I would also like to second the call for a followup article looking at local credit unions - Seattle Metropolitan looks interesting.
@41 who claims the "coverage" doesn't identify who assumes WaMu mortgages, 3 hours before you posted your bullshit JPM had a conference call that should have cleared up any uncertainty you had in understanding what "assets" are. JPM is indeed the owner of all the mortgages, toxic or not, that WaMu holds. They estimate losses from these mortgages to be between 30b and 54b. Actually I'd encourage everyone to take a look at the investor presentation, particularly slide 16 which gives a good idea for how much more you can expect the real estate market to fall, from people smarter than Paulson or Bernanke (http://investor.shareholder.com/common/download/download.cfm?companyid=ONE&fileid=236634&filekey=b5a3d70a-28ac-4148-8966-71b18408c8c3&filename=JPM_WManalystpresentation.pdf OR just go to http://calculatedrisk.blogspot.com/2008/09/jpmorgan-conference-call.html)
@53, all your friendly bank employees are safe and have a job for the foreseeable future, especially in WA, CA, GA, and FL (this was the main reason Chase wanted WaMu - they have no presence in these lucrative markets). If they're in TX, IL or NY some branches may eventually be shut down, although not immediately. All the corporate operations in Seattle are safe for a few months anyhow, until Chase gets a handle on who is redundant (that's me).
@55, I'm glad they'll keep their jobs for awhile, although it sucks that a lot of people lost their retirement. It's definitely a shitty time to be employed in the financial sector and I wish you luck.
Damn, JPMorgan got a deal - I'm guessing they must be counting on getting some of that bailout to take care of the "toxic" assets?
Also, somewhat off-topic - is the tanking of the economy just a postponed reaction to 9/11? I heard a BBC reporter frame the situation as such but I haven't heard people in the US media say that.
Well, there went any point in the bailout. Let's do the numbers: $700 billion bailout. Failure of bank with $250 billion in CDOs. Now I can't support this bailout at all.
I feel bad for the regular joes who took a hit on their WaMu 401k's, but Enron is a lesson none of us should forget -- don't put all your 401k in your company stock unless you won't be needing it.
JP Morgan did get a deal, but they also mentioned that they are expecting some relief from the TARP bailout (it didn't sound like they expected to participate directly, but they did foresee some upwards pressure on home prices as a result of the plan), which looks to be in limbo at the moment, so they may yet feel a bit of hurt from this decision.
The idea that the economy is tanking due to a postponed reaction to 9/11 sounds more to me like some scheme to drum up support for continuing the war on terror than reality...
@58 - I think the connection to 9/11 was that the economy slowed down then, so supposedly all this credit was loosened to encourage people to spend more. Then the increase in the deficit to pay for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq added to make the US economy shakier, from what I remember. I think the BBC report was implying that Bush's administration had made shitty decisions about the economy, and wasn't about the war on terror so much.
I think this is one of the few times it feels better to be broke. Less stress & I don't have to watch my money/home disappear.
@56 This economic meltdown has nothing to do with a delayed reaction to 9/11 except for one thing: it comes on the same watch as -- drum roll please -- George Double-Fucking-Ewe Bush
What this meltdown is really all about is the U.S. becoming drunk on its own sense of superiority -- and we have a president who has done nothing but fan the flames.
You don't need to have a Ph. D. in economics to know:
* When the savings rate of U.S. consumers is NEGATIVE, it means we're consuming more than we produce
* When people tap into home equity loans on the basis of property values going up 10%+ per year just to sustain their consumption, it's a pyramid scheme that's bound to collapse
* And then, you have a president whose answer for every problem is a tax cut
* And further, in a time of national crisis -- 9/11 -- the presidents call to the nation is what? Sacrifice? Save? "War bonds"? Nope. His message: Go shopping! Remember that? WTF?!
Most people agree the 2002 recession was made worse by the psychological response to 9/11. But this crisis is based on a lack of leadership and sense of economic invincibility.
Still not seeing answer on who currently owns my two month old 30 year fixed WaMu mortgage...
No mention of mortgages here:
Do I make the next check out to Bernanke?
I bought WAmu bonds in August 08 ad they were maturing in Jan, 09. Does anybody know if Bonds are safe? Should I try to sell them right now?
@62, they're worthless. Sorry.
@61, nothing has changed. WaMu, and thus JP Morgan, still owns your mortgage. Same as ever. You may eventually be given a new address to send them to, but for now make them out to the same company you always have.
As more of an explanation, the holding company who was going to pay your bonds back has been eviscerated. They will go to bankruptcy court and bondholders and shareholders will try to get thier money, but they don't have any assets to give (Chase bought them all from the Fed). So yes, sell them, unless you somehow think you'll get something from the court.
@62, don't buy or sell anything based on advice given you by some anonymous commenter on SLOG - depending on how much you have invested, get some advice from someone who knows how all this works, and wait to see how WaMu ends up being parceled out.
"Mr. Fishman (the new company's chief executive), who has been on the job for less than three weeks, is eligible for $11.6 million in cash severance and will get to keep his $7.5 million signing bonus..."
@31 - Last night at Elliott Bay Bookstore the two guys who wrote "Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes" said that during their cross-country book tour the last two weeks they've felt like Nero fiddling while Rome burns.
Branch banking employees at WaMu are not only safe for now, but may well retain their jobs once JP Morgan takes over as they want a presence on the West Coast.
The front office employees at WaMu Center... well, if they weren't polishing their resumes and querying for interviews 1-2 months ago, they absolutely need to start now.
66. Feel disgusted now? How's this: Alan Fishman and Kerry Killinger are good friends, and that's why he agreed to come here and keep the seat warm.
Rich white men really do stick together.
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