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

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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  279 ratings  ·  56 reviews
During the most dizzying days of the financial crisis, Washington Mutual, a bank with hundreds of billions of dollars in its coffers, suffered a crippling bank run. The story of its final, brutal collapse in the autumn of 2008, and its controversial sale to JPMorgan Chase, is an astonishing account of how one bank lost itself to greed and mismanagement, and how the entire ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Simon & Schuster
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Chad
Being a ten year veteran of WaMu and having spoken with many people in many different parts of the bank since it's failure, having followed much of what has been written about the events and my own experiences, I have to say that this book tracks very closely with what I was able to piece together as to the eventual failure of WaMu. In this, it appears that it is very reliable and accurate with only very minor nuances that maybe were not fully fleshed out or understood. Given my knowledge of the ...more
Anita Edwards
Interesting but not a page-turner. A fairly well writen story of a local icon which unlike Starbucks, Amazon and Microsoft,failed through growth. Lots of facts I didn't know and a view into Washington (DC)regulatory politics we don't often see on the Left coast, but not really new ground. We've heard this story too many times before--fair-haired darling of Wall Street starts to believe his own press and is forced to prop up earnings by taking bigger & bigger risks. That said, it is a compete ...more
Jane
I was on the fence about the rating for this book. It has two shortcomings in my opinion. One is that it suffers from a regional bias. To be fair, it is unlikely any other journalist could have covered WaMu's story in such depth. The other problem I had with it was the lack of any mention of the bank's auditors. Where were the auditors while WaMu was selling out its shareholders? Perhaps the author did not consider it relevant but American shareholder's should. I for one plan to consider the aud ...more
Liam
"'Business got casual when dress got casual.'" (quoting Kerry Killinger, 51)

"Killinger would later refer to the Countrywide chief executive [Angelo Mozilo] in an e-mail as the 'great orange-skinned prophet from Calabasas.'" (127)

"'I was trying to torture them [JP Morgan] -- to smoke them out,' Fishman said later. 'They're torturing me, I'm torturing them. Everyone thinks we're kind of muttonheads. You're playing a weak hand, the world's coming to an end, and you're trying to run an auction on a
...more
Breakingviews
By Antony Currie

All financial institutions - not just those deemed too big to fail - need strong regulatory oversight. That is one lesson of Kirsten Grind’s new book about the demise of Washington Mutual, “The Lost Bank.” Grind, who covered the bank for Seattle’s Puget Sound Business Journal before moving to the Wall Street Journal, offers decent coverage of the bank’s demise in September 2008. But her incredibly well-researched account of how the bank got there is more captivating.

The story be
...more
Ku
THE LOST BANK tells the story of biggest bank failure in this country's history and it tells it well. It compliments TOO BIG TO FAIL. In TOO BIG, that book tells the story of the flashy investment bankers of Wall Street as they fight for their financial lives, and it features dramatic story lines and outsized egos. In THE LOST BANK, it's the story of Main Street, of homeowners and mortgages and local branches where people put their savings. This book presents a scenario that the housing bubble w ...more
Cheryl Knowlton
My husband and I listened to this audio book as we took a lengthy driving trip. We were both riveted!! This book was recommended to me by a good friend. I thought I knew the mortgage meltdown from most angles, as I've read at least 10 books on the subject. How wrong I was! I was missing the WAMU'S piece entirely.

Having lived in the mortgage world from 1999-2008 as a mortgage broker as well as a wholesale account executive from 2003-2005, this book brought back many memories, as well as a fair a
...more
April
Kristen Grind did ALOT of research and has written it in simple english, not alot of finance phrases that us normal people don't understand. :)

I was surprised to see people I know/knew quoted.

Kristen also writes about Doug Wisdorf, his career and his suicide.
"Wisdorf, like Glaze, was a longtime WaMu employee. He had worked at the bank for more than two decades and had even met his wife at WaMu."

"...Doug Wisdorf, the deputy in charge of WaMu's investor relations department, had committed suicid
...more
JORGE
Very interesting and informative. Very well written and engaging. The story of Washington Mutual is fascinating and it offers a very compelling and informative perspective of the financial crisis and how we got there.
itpdx
Often when there is a complex news story that arrives in bits and pieces and is difficult to understand, I say that I will wait for the book to come out. This book may not be THE book about the financial crisis/recession that started in 2008 but it is an excellent introduction. Grind has put together an understandable and compelling account of the failure of Washington Mutual (WaMu) Bank. She paints vivid pictures of some of the personalities of involved, as well as the corporate culture of the ...more
Robert Boyd
An ok job--it tells the story at a rapid clip. Grind is hampered by a lack of good sourcing--so many people would not speak with her, and insanely, a lot of correspondence between the FDIC, WaMu, JP Morgan and the now defunct and discredited OTC have been redacted, as if they were from the CIA. Still, there is enough here to show that the top guys at WaMu were liars, were reckless with OPM, turned the other way so as not to witness fraud being committed by their employees and agents, etc. The on ...more
Amy Wolf
I was there. Yes, sitting in the middle of the new corporate office in Seattle when Sheila Bair spoke and the whole edifice (which was founded in 1889) came tumbling down. I followed Grind's reports in the Puget Sound Business Journal, and she has put together an excellent book about the whole sad affair. One caveat: she deals almost exclusively with the major execs (Killinger; Rotella) and does not cover the minions (like me) whose entire lives were impacted (read: ruined) by the Bank's failure ...more
Lisa
Interesting history of a local Seattle bank that got caught up and finally ended in the crash, and a good economics lesson.
Sauparna Sarkar
For a former employee, a revealing but depressing read. A very well researched book, it provides a great historical background of the rise of the company and how market forces changed the company culture as management turned aggressive in the rush for higher margin products and ignored numerous warning signs. What was revealing to me was how early on these warning signs were exposed, but how clueless most people inside the company were about the issues. It was also disappointing to read how in-f ...more
Ken
This was one of the more interesting books that I've read about the financial crisis. The book deals exclusively with the experience of Washington Mutual, covering its long road from a local bank to one of the largest mortgage lenders in the country. The book does a good job of explaining how the personalities of those running the company changed the bank's culture and led it to make increasingly risky loans. This is a major advantage of the book, as most other books about the financial crisis s ...more
Meepspeeps
A good part of this book was a biography of Kerry Killinger, CEO during the run up of fraud then failure at Washington Mutual. I think the author does her best to describe how and why he made or avoided the decisions he did. Meanwhile it demonstrates how a few very bad decisions and lack of oversight at the highest levels can ruin the lives of many "Main Street" families. I liked that she introduced some employees and customers, not just the decision makers and government officials that are ofte ...more
Brent Nahmias
Crushingly dry, only got through two chapters.
Matt Beckwith
This was a very difficult book to read. Difficult, but wonderful. Working at WaMu after leaving Providian, only to return back to Providian and then be acquired by WaMu, it was very interesting to read. Heartbreaking for sure. I was very proud to have been a part of WaMu and was devastated by the company's collapse. Hearing the story from this perspective was, dare I say, therapeutic.

Opening the book with D-Day, 9/25/2008 was powerful. Coming back to it near the end still sent chills down my sp
...more
John Mckenna
A must read for anyone who worked at WaMu. I'm not sure if it would have the same level of appeal to anyone else, but ultimately a fascinating look into corporate America and the financial crisis.
Caroline
I tried to get into this book. Heck, I LIVED this story, so I'm as invested (ha!) as anyone in what really happened. There was just too much historical context / lead up and I abandoned the title just after Part II started. Maybe it was listening to it instead of reading it? Maybe it was the narrator, who sounded like he could have starred in one of WaMu's "stodgy old banker" ads and droned a tad? Or maybe, I just don't need to re-hash the "instant replay" nor "post-mortem" in all its gory detai ...more
James
This book is fantastic, in a Greek tragedy kind of way. Grind does a superb job mapping the rise and fall of WaMu through unchecked subprime lending.

Where this book really excels though is painting the broader picture of WaMu's failure, and the greater market and the actions of federal regulators. WaMu did not fail because of subprime loans, it failed because every chance it had for raising capital or finding a buyer was systematically taken away from it, until it was sold in a fire sale to JPM
...more
Jeffery
This book tells the inside story of WaMu from the savings and loan crisis of the 80's til the failure of the bank in 2008. If you wondered what led banks to make stupid decisions regarding mortgages this book fills you in. The author did a very good job showing this bank not as a huge corporation but as a group of people that changed the trajectory of the bank from a sound people oriented bank to a grow at all cost financial machine. A lot of research went into this book. I recommend it highly.
Suzanne
Well written considering the subject matter would bore the majority of Americans. For those working in the industry at the time or effected by a bank failure, the background and politics involved are fascinating. Humanizing the story and bringing a complicated process, large cast of characters, and often tedious subject matter down to earth is a triumph. I learned a lot!
Lincoln


This is a great book for the first 75% where the reporting is detailed, insightful and clearly with inside the bank knowledge. But once we get to 2008, the details become lighter and the specific dynamics of board room negotiations I totally lacking. The author has a great pulse on what happened in Seattle and at WaMu but no insider status in washington or new York. A good read and history of WaMu but the last part of the book is thin and disappointing.
Nancy
Worth reading, though it's likely that you'll get angry while reading it. The willful ignorance, the willful destruction, those are angering, but there's also the people who never knew, the ones who couldn't have seen things coming (mostly the shareholders), the people who were in-house and kept in the dark or had been in house for so many years and love the old WaMu so much they couldn't give it up. It's very well-written, very clear, and very sad.
Jim Holscher
An excellent look at the forefront of the financial meltdown. The interesting things here are the unanswered questions. How was WAMU allowed to fail when citibank, AIG and Bank of America were allowed to be bought? How could a federal agency entrusted with insuring bank customer funds be allowed to step in an broker deals?

Interesting reading and well written. Easily one of the most researched and entertaining financial reads.
Barb Moore
Follow WaMu's descent from people-oriented, service-centered local bank to out-of-control ethical sinkhole that helped drown the world economy. Grind's meticulous research brings the whole story into sharp focus, and none of the players gets away unscathed, including feuding federal agencies that caused the final push. Excellent.
Bridget
Just into the first few pages and I want to put my money in my mattress! Kirsten Grind makes this book a great read for someone looking at the banking situation from the outside. She really captures the personalities and weaknesses during these current economic times. I think everyone will benefit from reading this book!
Huntley
If you are ready to relive (and better understand) the 2008 meltdown, you should pick this up. It's written by a reporter who worked for our company at the time (she's at the WSJ) now. Her work on WaMu made her a finalist for the Pulitzer. Just getting into the book myself -- it's really good, if depressing.
Don
Oct 23, 2013 Don rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
A biography of a bank is perhaps a hard sell to the general public, but I enjoyed the pace and the personalities and appreciate the reportage of the death spiral. The author made sure we stayed in touch with the personalities, big and small, that both caused and were victims of the bank's failure.
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5398519
I live in New York City, but I'm a West Coaster at heart. I love the outdoors - running, biking, hiking, backpacking - and I am deeply obsessed with the ocean, particularly Swami's in Cardiff, Calif. I've always been a newspaper journalist, covering a variety of business topics until I landed on finance, now at The Wall Street Journal. I am a huge bookworm - when I was 13, my father feared I was o ...more
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“So far, only a mortgage trader from Goldman Sachs has been criminally charged. As Fay Chapman would later observe about the financial crisis in general, “There is no law against stupidity.” 0 likes
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