The Lost Bank: The Story of Washington Mutual—The Biggest Bank Failure in American History

Kirsten Grind. Simon & Schuster, $27 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4516-1792-4
Hubris and greed break the bank in this absorbing saga of the housing bubble. In her first book, Wall Street Journal reporter Grind chronicles the rise of Washington Mutual from a sleepy Seattle-based thrift to America’s biggest savings and loan bank, its reckless plunge into the can’t-lose subprime mortgage market, and its 2008 failure. As the honest, avowedly “nice” WaMu succumbs to the lure of easy money, an almost Shakespearean boardroom melodrama unfolds, featuring vivid personalities like Kerry Killinger, WaMu’s conquering hero-turned-vacillating nebbishy CEO, and Jamie Dimon, the ruthless JPMorgan leader who swallowed WaMu. (Grind raises disturbing questions about how JPMorgan benefited from the FDIC’s forcing a possibly salvageable WaMu into receivership.) Even more revealing are the bit players—the WaMu salespeople peddling extortionate adjustable rate mortgages to impecunious borrowers who didn’t understand what they were signing. Grind pens a lucid, entertaining guide to the delusions and frauds powering the debacle, from Fed chief Alan Greenspan’s rose-tinted economic forecasts down to the falsified documents that put people with no income, assets, or perhaps even pulses into mortgages they could never repay. Hers is one of the best accounts yet of WaMu’s demise—and of the Great Crash as it played out on a human scale. Agent: Elizabeth Wales, Wales Literary Agency. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/05/2012
Release date: 06/12/2012
Compact Disc - 978-1-4708-2563-8
Compact Disc - 12 pages - 978-1-4708-2562-1
MP3 CD - 978-1-4708-2564-5
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4708-2566-9
Paperback - 389 pages - 978-1-4516-1793-1
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4516-1794-8
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