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Friday, September 19, 2008

The WaMu Meltdown

posted by on September 19 at 15:48 PM

In this week’s online edition, eight Stranger writers consider the Washington Mutual meltdown: What it means, the pro and cons of converting your cash to gold, and whether this might be a good time to panic.

Jonathan Golob on where it all went wrong:

Then the housing bubble popped and some of those “top-rated” loans were no longer getting paid. Worse, it became impossible to sort out the good top-rated debt from the bad top-rated debt, because the banks collected so little information. WaMu—like many other financial organizations that invested in these “safe” investments—can only sell these mortgage-backed investments for pennies on what it paid. Our money, to an unknown extent, is gone.

Bethany Jean Clement on leaving WaMu forever:

I began to hate you, Washington Mutual. I said that I would like to close my account and that I was pressed for time three separate times. I said that I did not want to continue this conversation. You became increasingly agitated, and you browbeat me, intimating that I did not understand financial matters and saying that I was being “rash.” I did not say, “Would you say that to a man?” But would you, Washington Mutual? You did not say it to Tim Keck, the publisher of this paper, when he closed his account the day before I did. Mr. Keck was neither rash nor emotional: He was merely a man who wanted his money.

Eli Sanders on his sentimental attachment to Washington Mutual:

I know now that this business of storing money probably shouldn’t be about mushy sentiment. But it’s hard for me not to be sentimental about Washington Mutual. The place treated me like an adult when I was a kid. It respected me—even when all I had to offer were inconsequential sums and a financial legitimacy that only existed because of my mom’s guarantee.

Plus Dominic Holden on whether credit unions are safer, Jen Graves on why there’s no reason for panic, Dan Savage on his shitty mortgage, Charles Mudede on the failure of neoliberal policy,and me on why poverty is the best defense.

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Your stories are fun! The sort of quirky, personal perspective on the financial crisis that plays to The Stranger's strengths. Except, of course, for Charles contribution.

Posted by David Wright | September 19, 2008 4:05 PM

@ Bethany Jean Clement,

First of all, can we please stop blaming the people that work at branches and call centers for the severe fuck***ups of the Harvard MBAs in upper management? These people work their asses off, have families to feed, most of them truly care about their customers, and they've made WaMu's branch network rock-solid. WaMu's management treats them like total crap, btw.

Second, what exactly do you suppose Bank of America/Merrill Lynch is gonna do with your money? That was well thought out.

Posted by Original Andrew | September 19, 2008 4:26 PM

HOLD IT!?!?! My FELLOW stranger staffers w/$$$ STILL in Wamu AFTER they were CON the MONORAILl!! SHIT. WTF guys? I'm so telling Josh Feit!

Posted by nipper | September 19, 2008 4:29 PM

BJC wrote something out of emotion, not analytics. are you surprised?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | September 19, 2008 4:42 PM

This "article" is about as astute as the Stranger's sports coverage. Which is to say, not very.

Posted by joykiller | September 19, 2008 4:46 PM

Way to be quick on the uptake and start owning the local story for us. Yay.
(and mike nipper for the win win win)

Posted by tomasyalba | September 19, 2008 4:49 PM

I find it hilarious that savage did an ARM. Why? Why did you do it savage? Didn't you consult a crank or cynic beforehand?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | September 19, 2008 4:50 PM

I'm telling you. Once you try banking the viking way, you'll feel like you went berzerk and pillaged your balance back to financial health. Plus, free axe with qualifying deposit.

Posted by elenchos | September 19, 2008 5:25 PM

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