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

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  655 ratings  ·  84 reviews
Based on reporting for which the author was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Gerald Loeb Award, this book traces the rise and spectacular fall of Washington Mutual.

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
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Simon Schuster
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Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Amazing how arrogant these people were
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
Dan Trefethen
Feb 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I have a family history with Washington Mutual.

My mother was a teller there in the 1930s, and described a run on the bank that is mentioned in this book (“the first time I ever saw a million dollars in cash!”, she told me). She had to quit when she got married because teller jobs were for 'single girls' then. (Don't get me started on gender-based job discrimination – I am old enough to remember the classified ads separated by “jobs for men” and “jobs for women”.)

Through family connections in the
Kevin Furr
Sep 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Back about 2007 I started using Washington Mutual as my main bank. That was because it was located across the parking lot from my workplace, and paid out the highest interest on savings accounts of any bank I knew of. A year later it went bust. I was wholly unaffected thanks to the quick work of regulators to effect an immediate sale of WaMu to JP Morgan Chase. So I was interested to discover this account of the WaMu collapse to learn the details all these years later.

The core of WaMu's problem
Benjamin Barton
Aug 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Mrs. Grind was originally on the right track with her research back in the ealy days of the WAMU saga but somewhere along the way, she forgot to include all the 'juicy' bits of the story, i.e. corporate espionage and corrupt collusion between Jamie Dimon and Sheila Bair leading up to the takedown of WAMU by the FDIC and subsequent overnight firesale single bidder auction of WAMU assets to JPM for fractions of a penny on the dollar. Washington Mutual was a solivent bank at the time it was taken d ...more
Kathleen (itpdx)
Aug 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Tragic tale, particularly when you knew the players. Great insight to what was going on behind the scenes in Washington, but so sad see all the components that led to the dominos falling and the downfall of a great company.....
Suresh Ramaswamy
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Washington Mutual was the biggest bank failure in the U.S. With 3,600 branches and 43,000 employees spread across the nation, US$ 128 billions in deposits and assets of US$ 310 billions, there just was no reason why the bank should not have been bailed out and allowed to fail. It appears that the U.S. Government wanted to do away with community banks, and hence this decision. By the end of the financial crisis of 2008 more than 250 community banks, big and small, had been allowed to fail inspite ...more
Dec 18, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is not for everyone, but was extremely interesting to me because for eight years I worked for one of Washington Mutual's subsidiaries. The decision of WaMu to sell off all ancillary businesses (I changed jobs, following the sold-off subsidiary under new ownership) was prelude to the giant series of missteps resulting in WaMu being the largest bank EVER to fail.

The book is a well-written narrative of the gradual shift of priorities of a highly regarded bank, and the discomfort with whic
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: amer-history
A thorough history of a preventable financial tragedy. In my opinion it's a classic case of a sleepy board of directors who had little to no working knowledge about operating a large savings bank. The board of WaMu should have reigned in a beguiling CEO long before the FDIC seized the failing institution. The makeup of the WaMu board was that of a typical Puget Sound oversight operation: cozy patricians from other Seattle-based companies who collected their director's fees and did nothing to sto ...more
Chris Ramirez
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Good book. I always love to hear the inside stories of these colossal business failures. After reading the book it seems pretty obvious to me that there is an east coast bias when it comes to banking. You can't help but feel like Paulson was taking care of his buddies at AIG, Citi, and Meryl but let WAMU eat it. I hate when the government gets to pick the winners and the losers. Either let them all fail or bail them all out. What it really proves to me is that any institution could fail and the ...more
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Working on bank resolution plans got me interested in actual bank failures of larger banks and how those events influence FDIC policy. But even if you don’t work in this space, this is a well-told Tale of the personalities and model that lead to its enormous growth and the human failings that lead to its downfall.
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic account of what led to Washington Mutual failure and a great illustration of the 2008 financial crises.
Full of first-hand accounts, fantastically written, and engaging from start to finish.
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
It is a fascinating insight into the rise and fall of a financial institution. The first half moved at a past pace, and the last half dragged just as much. Worth a read, nonetheless.
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Great book about another casualty of the last financial crisis.
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I found this book enlightening as a case study on building culture and what can break good team culture.
Gretchen Elhassani
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was great. Very accessible history of the bank collapse.
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty solid history of the collapse of Washington Mutual.
Good overview of how culture matters.
Would recommend for all finance and banking students.
John Oldfield
May 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, adventure
The WaMu Bank Failure Interesting
Terrence Dennis
Nov 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great insight to American financial tragedy
Nov 27, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Such an interesting look at WaMu's bank failure - easy to read, yet informative. ...more
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
It’s hard not to conclude that Washington Mutual was a sacrificial lamb to help the Bush Administration pass TARP, the $700 billion fund that gifted money to favored financial institutions. Granted, WAMU probably deserved to fail based on the horrible lending strategies of long time CEO Kerry Killinger. Killinger took over WAMU and led it on a rapid expansion program making it one of the largest retail banks in the country. But, at some point in the history of this Seattle institution, Killinger ...more
Anita Edwards
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
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 competent j ...more
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is not for everyone. But if you're at all interested in learning more about the 2008 financial crisis, or enjoy stories about the rise and fall of organizations, or just have a fading memory of WaMu and wondered whatever happened to those guys...then give this one a shot.

For those of us in California, many of us remember Washington Mutual branches opening up seemingly everywhere not too long ago...okay maybe it was a long time ago...(remember free checking accounts...that was WaMu!). B
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finance
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
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wtfiswrongwithus
Holy crap, the Great Recession of 2008 and all of the failed mortgages and bank bailouts was just a messed up situation. I don't fully understand it, but Grind's book certainly helped explain what happened, at least what happened to Washington Mutual.

This is a really good, thorough look at the WaMu crisis and how they got there. To me, the most heart-wrenching sentence (Not the most heart-wrenching aspect of the overall story; people losing all their money and their retirement funds is WAY sadd
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
May 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"'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
Cheryl Knowlton
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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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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4 likes · 3 comments
“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
“WaMu’s patchwork of systems for making mortgage loans did not help. A homeowner would lock in a low interest rate through” 0 likes
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