Home > requiem for an overweight

requiem for an overweight

September 27th, 2008 at 04:09 am

Last night DH and I were

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here until 10:30 pm; we got home and heard
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this ... the whole effect made it seem like we heard a whole fiddle concert while Rome burned.

Right now the WaMu failure is a bit of a non-starter; the downtown Seattle street vibe during the lunch hour was flat. I walked past the WaMu center. Inside and around the sidewalk that vibe was a bit like the last day of college when your dad would show up. Not quite sad, not quite happy ... just transition-y.

I want to take the time here to say that I will really miss WaMu. I lived in Seattle between 1985-1992 and now 1999 - present and had banked with WaMu since 1986. WaMu was close by U Washington (convenient for a grad student), charged no fees if you didn't overspend, their ATMs didn't charge on other bank cards, the tellers were friendly, and their math was right on your account ... at least it was on mine.

I remember when the WaMu Tower was finished in 1988. I wondered a bit even then how a bank could afford to build it when they didn't rip their clients off, still, WaMu generated a certain amount of civic pride.

I came back in 1999 to a bit of a juiced up WaMu...but then again, during the era everybody was juiced up. Still, the staff and tellers were friendly in less of that you-have-money-I must-be-friendly and I was happy that my neighborhood WaMu was about 10 blocks from the house while WaMu Tower was 6 blocks from work. There were some fees for the careless; by 2001 or so WaMu would charge non-WaMu cards $1.50, in line with everyone else. I seriously looked at starting a DRP when their stock was at about 23$. In '06, I was kicking myself that I hadn't. "Overweight" the stock analysts said.

But in '06, when I got my first bits of the inheritance I started to notice the harder selling - if you can fund a 30K CD for 6 months, think about buying a house. Real estate only goes up! (yeah, maybe later). On the other hand, they were flawless when the WaMu ATM ate my card.

In other words, still useful for the basics. They flew too high, their profits got juiced up with the returns of evil and crappy mortgages, their shareholders expected that the good times would always roll. However, with return there is risk; with continuous return, continuous risk. A bit like always hearing "heckuva job!" without hearing the "Brownie" at the end of it.

I chatted with a co worker this morning, who was originally from the east coast. He sighed and said, "Sucks. I escaped being a Chase Bank customer."

I hear you, brother.

6 Responses to “requiem for an overweight”

  1. scfr Says:

    You captured beautifully why many of us liked banking with WaMu. Unlike other banks, I never once had a bad teller experience there.

  2. Analise Says:

    WaMu has been my bank since they bought out Great Western Savings. I, too, can say I've been very happy with them and have never had a negative experience with any of the tellers.

  3. paulettegoddard Says:

    I used to own Washington Mutual stock, from 2002 to 2005, for the yield, when my friends were complaining about how WM would mess up their payments after gobbling their mortgagors.

  4. fern Says:

    The CEO of WaMu a few years back decided that WaMu would become the "Wal-Mart" of banking, meaning that they would make risky mortgage loans to every Tom, Dick and Harry making $25K a year. It was gravy train time for WaMu.

    That's what got them in trouble. As i recall from my reading, the current CEO will be able to keep his $11 million signing bonus and an equally generous severance package after being there all of a few weeks.

    Still feeling nostalgic?

  5. baselle Says:

    fern - Killinger was a beast, no doubt about it. He wanted to be a high roller at any cost, and he succeeded. Fishman is small potatoes compared to him.

    Part of my nostalgia was due to the previous CEO,
    Text is Lou Pepper and Link is
    Lou Pepper. Its tough when a former good guy turns gradually evil and becomes a villain.

  6. fern Says:

    You probably know more about the individual personalities involved than me, but generally i doubt that when they're earning that kind of income, they are men of integrity, ethics and a concern for their fellow man. There are exceptions (Bill Gates comes to mind) but few and far between.

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