The Largest Bank Failure In United States History: Washington Mutual

2573 words - 10 pages

Business Ethics

The largest bank failure
in
United States History
(Washington Mutual)

Introduction
Washington Mutual, Inc. was a savings bank holding company and the former owner of Washington Mutual Bank, which was the United States’ largest savings and loan association until it became the largest bank failure in U.S. history.

On September 25, 2008, the United States Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) seized Washington Mutual Bank from Washington Mutual, Inc. and placed it into the receivership of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The OTS took the action due to the withdrawal of $16.4 billion in deposits, during a 10-day bank run (amounting to 9% of the deposits it had held on June 30, 2008). The FDIC sold the banking subsidiaries (minus unsecured debt or equity claims) to JPMorgan Chase for $1.9 billion, which re-opened the bank the next day. According to FDIC, JPMorgan didn’t acquire WaMu's liabilities, including claims by shareholders and subordinated and senior debt holders, and it received $25 billion a few weeks later as part of the taxpayer bailout of the financial services industry. The holding company, Washington Mutual, Inc. was left with $33 billion assets, and $8 billion debt, after being stripped of its banking subsidiary by the FDIC. The next day, September 26, Washington Mutual, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 voluntary bankruptcy in Delaware, where it is incorporated.

Washington Mutual Bank's closure and receivership is the largest bank failure in American financial history. Before the receivership action, it was the sixth-largest bank in the United States. According to Washington Mutual Inc.'s 2007 SEC filing, the holding company held assets valued at $327.9 billion.

Washington Mutual specialized in providing home mortgages, credit cards and other retail lending products and services. WaMu became an OTS-regulated institution on December 27, 1988 and grew through acquisitions between 1996 and 2002 to become the largest savings association supervised by the agency. As of June 30, 2008, WaMu had more than 43,000 employees, more than 2,200 branch offices in 15 states and $188.3 billion in deposits.
Washington Mutual was incorporated as the Washington National Building Loan and Investment Association on September 25, 1889, after the great Seattle fire destroyed 120 acres of the central business district of Seattle. The newly formed company made its first home mortgage loan on the West Coast on February 10, 1890. It changed its name to Washington Savings and Loan Association on June 25, 1908. By 1917, it was operating under the name Washington Mutual Savings Bank. The company purchased its first company, the financially distressed Continental Mutual Savings Bank, on July 25, 1930. Its marketing slogan for much of its history was "The Friend of the Family". At the time of its demise, the slogan was "Simpler Banking, More Smiles".

In 1983, Washington Mutual bought the brokerage firm...

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