Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wha' Happen' to WaMu?

Just blocks from my house a brand new building went up back in 2008.  It was going to be a Washington Mutual branch and it was nearing completion when the skids were put on at WaMu in September.  That building, complete except for removing the covers from the signs and putting in furniture sat empty until a couple of weeks ago.  That's when the bulldozers moved in and tore the bright new bank building to the ground.

It is a suitable parallel to the company itself.  Flying high in the sub-prime bubble and then bulldozed into the ground as it failed.

In the case of WaMu it was just plain unbridled greed that bulldozed it.  Bankers drinking their own Kool-Aid and believing that the artificially inflated housing market couldn't fail were the cause. If you ever needed proof of that greed, how about this story from Politico which details the WaMu lenders on a junket to Hawaii where they gleefully took a turn at karaoke.  The song?  "I Like Big Bucks" to the tune of rap song "Baby Got Back".
“I like big bucks and I cannot lie/You mortgage brothers can't deny,” sang the WaMu rappers.

The presentation, which included cheerleaders moving in time to the music, and choreographed moves by the singers, continued:

“That when the dough roles in like you're printin’ your own cash/
And you gotta make a splash/You just spends/Like it never ends/
Cuz you gotta have that big new Benz/
All of that bling you're wearin'/ Shining so bright peoples starin'/
It's crazy, I gotta ski Aspen/That's all I'm askin'”

During another skit, the WaMu bankers in Kauai staged a mock funeral for their competition, Countrywide Financial, a mortgage lender that was also deeply involved in the subprime market.
From rapping to rap-sheet kind of makes some kind of karmic sense doesn't it?

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