>> "wall street journal" reporter examines the 2008 collapse of washington mutual, the largest bank failure in u.s. history. the talk is just over an hour. [applause] >> well, it is so wonderful to see a great crowd here in one of america's great public libraries a reminder of why it's so important and to welcome my friend to my kirsten grind, back to seattle again. sorry, there is no big bank failure today to cover. >> of the weather. >> i'm from phoenix. endless sunny days may be depressed. of goodbye. per book, the lost -- "the lost bank" , a must read if you want to understand not only what
happened in washington mutual, which was a huge trauma for the city, trauma that continues to reverberate, but much broader policy implications for what happened in the great recession and how the banking contributed to the meltdown. there were times when your book reads like a thriller. after one of those kind of thriller teases we don't start out any of the things that went with that. we start with a guy named lou pepper. why is that? >> well, lee pepper was one of the early ceo spot during the 1980's. i thought it was very important to start out with him because he represents the time in the banking system that has been lost. he represents a time where banks were much smaller and were very
customer focused and community friendly. in fact known as the friend of the family. and really in fused this bank with such an amazing culture. it was just widely known across the region as a great place to the banking. it was a terrific for employees who worked there, terrific for customers. then all that began to change. >> well, everybody has moments. in lose case, something he would come to rue was when he bought a small spokane broker-dealer and somebody who came with that dylan, now you want to tell us about that a little bit. >> so and walked into his office this young guy who was about 31 years old. his name was carried calenture. he was as sharp as attack. he knew everything about
financial reporting. hit one these really well performing mutual funds. really, everyone at the bank was just sort of in all about his knowledge, as was live. he really became his protege. and so when it was time for lou to sort of passed the bank on to someone else it made a lot of sense the past it on. and at that time still a very small regional bank. he had done a terrific job of growing it, but it's still only had about $9 billion in assets, and no one outside of seattle had ever heard of it. >> at the same time when most people think of the man eager to know, that is not the person that we get to know at first. i was fascinated by the background that you painted. last guy in the world you would
expect to be a stiff banker or a risky banker. >> absolutely. no, this was a very humble guy from iowa. he had this very classic sort of growing of childhood where people played pick-up baseball games and is long. he married his high-school sweetheart who human and banned. he put himself through state school. he was very humble, very ethical . very by the book and just very nice. also extremely awkward, i should say. and employees used to be wary of lending in an elevator with him. he just was much more comfortable working in financial reports. but there was nothing crazy or unusual about. >> except he was a trumpeter. >> except to was a trumpeter. and sometimes you play the trumpet at work. employee activities. that was, perhaps, a little bit strange.
they had a very quirky, often culture. and so actually one of the only ones in his family who was in an actual musician. he was a musician, to snuffers job. >> indeed went on an acquisition spree for a least a thrift, pretty awesome. what do you tell us about that. but absolutely. he took over the very small bank in 1990. he had a fabulous team of people surrounding him. lou pepper had also chosen. and together they just work like clockwork. say steamroll across the west coast and the country just buying banks left and right. this was during the mergers and acquisitions spree of the 1990's, so there was a crisis going on. the savings-and-loan crisis. they were able to take advantage of that and by paulinus smaller banks. so they grew rapidly through the 90's.
by the end of the decade they have become the country's largest savings and loan bank across the country. everyone loved him. everyone loved the bank. they could do no wrong. the man also created the concept of we all know now, although it's not going away, which is free checking accounts. you could go and not have to pay any of those annoying fees they pay to other banks and they essentially forced the other banks to follow suit. so they were just the most popular company anywhere. >> very good at some of the hard things in the financial-services acquisition merging computer systems. they do it over a weekend. tell us a little bit about that. the customer would not even feel anything monday morning. >> absolutely. you know, we don't think about that. we think of our bank is a bank,
but when they buy another bank it's a very complicated, terrifying proposition because you simply have to banks. you have to combine all the systems, and they do it very quickly so that the customers don't notice. well, there were experts said that, and that's key to any bank that trying to make all these large acquisitions. so there were a lot to do this in a way that the customer would notice. this is a bank that was very efficient and really anything they did. and when they came in to these other banks they were very frugal. it took away all the corporate credit cards, all the jet planes , they took away, you know, these other bankers would have these outlandish bank accounts and offices decorated like the wild west with lots of expensive trappings and high-rise office buildings. they came in and cover of all of that. they flew coach everywhere. there were very frugal. >> at least at that point.
>> at that point. again, we are still in the 90's. >> but there was this kind of, again, almost like a thriller, there was this for shuttling. and there was a small lender called long beach mortgage. >> long beach mortgage was this a very tiny lender new disneyland in california. >> maybe you could give us a sense of asset size so that people can understand how this should not have meant anything and get it ended up being quite consequential. >> so it was a tiny fraction of the assets of the last largest acquisition. i mean, a very small fraction. it was an afterthought. so this company made sub prime loans. it made mortgages to people whose credit was not that great. and the thinking at the time was, well, we have all these requirements under the community reinvestment act.
that is when you're basically required to make loans in some capacity. and also, sub prime lending have become extremely popular because prime loans or the conventional mortgages not making them much money anymore. so one of their -- one of the chief guys, his name is craig tall, went out looking around for a good sub prime lending to buy and landed on long beach mortgage. quite honestly it was the least adagio all the sub prime lenders could find because there were some really shady things going on in the accounting. and so they ended up even after opposition internally buying this small sub prime lender in the late 90's. airbus the first time they're really broke away from what they've been doing originally. >> but was it about long beach that would begin the cancer?
>> well, it's great that you call it a cancer because it really was like that. when they bought long beach it was almost like a little cancer cell. so there were several things about it. a big thing and not allow the people pay attention to his long beach was in california which was very much point to become the epicenter of sub prime and risky mortgage lending. so it was far away from seattle headquarters where everything was being controlled. also, these mortgage brokers, long beach was not a kind of wonder that you walked into a bank in talk to someone in the alone. that's called retail lending, and that is what washington mutual and done before and. long beach didn't actually talked to many people. did not talk to the customer. they bought loans. they bought loans to mortgage brokers which did not work for washington mutual. there were all these third-party people out there accumulating
all these loans. said that is a very unsafe system because there is no quality control. >> and we should make the point that one of the reasons the community reinvestment act came in was because the banking industry had redlined minority and poor areas. there is this kind of tin foil hat conspiracy theory out that the reason we have a banking meltdown in 2008 was just because all these minority deadbeats have mortgages. that's not the case. but it did require certain compliance. but the big thing that you eliminate in the book is that this was not just altruism. sub prime lending was incredibly profitable. >> oh, i mean, investors were buying, paying far more money than any conventional mortgage.
so in the mortgage business everything is being driven by the end investor, which is wall street and their customers. so they were paying -- they could make far greater returns on these riskier mortgages than they could make on our regular 30-year mortgage. so because of that there suddenly became this huge incentive to make more sub prime mortgages and other risky loans. >> wall street buys it, slices it, faces a, sells a. it's hugely profitable. seemed risk free because housing prices will never go down. mortgage payments are made reliably. then these lending institutions get pressure back. we want more. >> exactly. >> but there is a point in the book long before the housing bubble where washington mutual
gets in trouble. early 2000. what happened? >> well, the interesting thing about washington mutual is a lot of people like to paint this picture that all their problems really happened, you know, they happened in the three years before their 2008 failure. the problem started long before that. we can point to 2000. that is really when they started to go downhill. one of the biggest reasons they did is because it was at that point that the someone stood up and said we want to become the country's biggest mortgage lender. he internally began this push into risky mortgage lending soon after that. their slogan turned from a friend of the family to the power of yes. the power of yes, was suddenly their slogan being blasted across times square in new york, on billboards across the country that was what they were really dedicated to. and so that push really got the
ball rolling. >> now, before we get into the good stuff, and it's all good stuff, one of the differentiation as i make is that banking in charlotte, there were going on the biggest banking acquisition spree in history. there were a real commercial banks. end washington mutual was the thrift. it was a savings-and-loan. and if this would matter a lot later because to my mind -- and i just want your opinion. washington mutual was this kind of jurassic park survivor of the savings-and-loan industry, most of which had collapsed in 1989-'90.
absolutely. they were not at a bank. under their charter wamu had to make a percentage of mortgages. they were always making mortgages because they had to. they just went down a different approach than they had previously. >> very different. if you recall nationsbank, the bank of america he hated to sings with a passion. mortgage lending and investment bankers. take that for what it is worse. things started to change. walk us through that. >> two things happened
around the 2000 timeframe. kerry killinger your believed it should become an east coast institution having the bank compete with did giant banks on the east coast and at the same time he began to change personally. left his wife of 30 years and she was credited keeping him grounded. he remarried in. who was much less of zero end of assessed with the trappings of the ceo. they were suddenly flying corporate jets all over the country.
we have a gigantic the skyscraper built around that time frame when he was assessed he thought that is what of big bank should have. at the same time the bank was so large to bring in all of the executives from the east coast it was a different culture. those who were there more than a decade began to leave. they were frustrated. culture crashes and the culture began to deteriorate. >> host: was sent their concern of the safety of the lending faber doing? >> guest: absolutely. problems are already
bubbling to the surface. even after purchasing long beach their whisperings of fraud in california. they kept getting shut down 2003 they launched the internal investigation and found the huge chunk of the mortgages they were making and selling were barred. this was to thousand three. we heard all about how banks, this is still going on but banks could not foreclose because they did not have the paperwork. wamu had nothing. the files were like a scribbled piece of paper.
they had to do a massive overhaul all before anybody heard about subprime loans. >> host: why did kerry killinger change? >> a good question. i spend a lot of time asking that question. it is hard for anyone to stand up and have the whole country tell you how great you are, the best baker in the world, you have achieved the massive feet over 10 years, beating expectations and you believe in your own press. that is what happened. he became a different person.
he became better. more charismatic no longer awkward it and did not wear his glasses and a more. he was a different person. >> to be fair he declined to talk to you for the book. >> yes. [laughter] and he may have seen that letter. >> host: he made clear his dissatisfaction so set the stage the dot com crash, recession and common the enron scandal, worldcom, all the capital looking for someplace to go. alan greenspan this cycle of
ayn rand. [laughter] floods the markets with cheap credit. all of that goes into real-estate. lending. and mortgages. not just the american dream of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." you have to have a house house, sell the house, flip the house. it seems so long ago but yet yesterday for a radical change comes about two changes the capital markets and reveals a tremendous fall line for wamu. >> all the money floods the
system essentials a becoming the wild west in california specifically. one of the most eye opening parts i spent ago month interviewing loan officers during the craziness at the time. not an exaggeration literally dead people were getting mortgages. there is an anecdote that wamu chief legal officer told me they were investigating a loan coming through. of 56 year-old gardener named jose flores. they only way and the check
because it was under review. they find out he is dead. they go to jose who was 23 and they told him he was dead. he says haying on he comes back the next day with a sheet of paper that says i am not dead. i am right here. [laughter] and she kept the sheet of paper. this is what was happening all the time. wamu is them year for the entire banking system. wamu was leading the charge. but every penny joe is a two shin was doing it also with
the subprime mortgages and other risky mortgages. >> host: was their understanding of the complexity that they were ratcheted up the food chain if? >> wamu headquarters had some understanding. at the ground level absolutely not. the loan officers who knew they made a loan that nobody could pay back at all. but we weren't told wall street is buying them. durable people off the street making us a ton of
many well say they will take the mortgages and the risk will disappear.and the risk will disappear. they thought they have the ph.d.. we will make the ton of money. >> host: the algorithm looked good at the time. like bankamerica other regulators were high the compromise the office of the comptroller say would train and the bakes spent hundreds of millions of dollars to get glass-steagall appealed with the latest regulation. what was that lake with washington mutual?
>> the made regulator doesn't exist. now the interesting thing is it was formed after the savings-and-loan crisis. of the banking regulators in had the and purity complex. -- in 48 -- inferiority complex. that is what it needed for power but did not care what the banks were doing but it had banking assets under control that dictated the budget. the the ots regulating countrywide and wamu and others.
you saw there was lax regulation there was not attention being paid to what was going on. >> when the crisis is unstoppable, their efforts made for the institution institution, handicap those. >> the private equity texas partners, they put money into this with breathing room. calendar is forced out.
that was absolutely the case. all of their issues internally had fallen apart. they ran so fast there was no control internally. with the massive trading desk not just a mortgage lender but the middle man in which they were sucking up mortgages and spitting them out they turned into the s just as housing prices really began to crash. wamu holds the risky
eight -- risky in mortgages. and then they could not refinance. wamu which had been profitable they were eating away at the capital cushion and needed more money. they decided to try to sell the bank or raise private equity. nobody wanted to send -- sell the bank jaime dimon was always sniffing around. instead they raised $7 million of private equity from t pg. people thought they made it through. they have the bit -- the backing they thought that
was the turnaround point*. >> what i find interesting you don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to see the timing was off missing by that much. on the so many friends. and then overruling sheila bair and tim geithner and hank paulson said we will back everybody with everything and never have another wamu. washington mutual cannot house political poll in washington d.c.. yet there was a healthy part
with their retail branches. sheila bair wants to shut it down. meanwhile in new york there are rumors that started said jog. [laughter] >> you could call it that. politics become the issue. kerry killinger never made it a priority to build up relationships in washington d.c.. wamu had no friends but then jaime dimon it is their seventh line of business. wamu finds itself summer 2008 in the middle of the
panic situation and indymac digest failed in california. just like it's a wonderful life. everybody panicked. wamu suffered a run far bigger than indymac and did it very quietly. losing massive amounts of money every day. kerry killinger very panicked about the run called hank paulson of he heard there was a negative report coming out and was scared. hank paulson tells them essentially there is no help coming. he should have sold to jpmorgan chase and then it is obvious they have no friends.
and is a dire circumstance september 2008. >> host: also whisper campaign against washington. >> jpmorgan & company i get the bank in the spring. jpmorgan does not like to lose. said they were biding their time until they could return with another opportunity. so they met with at to meet and talk with the regulators often about wamu. >> host: we were on the story for different publications this is made up of some much more.
tell us about the difficulty of getting to the bottom of these reports they did not just to respond to your freedom of information request. >> no. [laughter] allot of work we did we did well i was a reporter at the business journal. we tried to piece together what had happened in the three weeks before it wamu failed. extremely secret. nobody was talking about it. nobody would talk to us. everything came back completely blacked out.
we were so is an odd the only art in the book is the blacked out email in the book. [laughter] we saw hundreds. even during the book process i cannot tell you how hard. last chapter is a blow by blow happening seattle, washington d.c., new york. it was like pulling teeth relying on public records to piece it because three years later nobody wanted to talk. still very controversial. >> host: a lot of ruined lives, broken hearts. >> one of the tragedies of this story as is kerry killinger made the decisions to build up on the risky
mortgage lending lou was writing letters to kerry. you should not be down the road to. get rid of the loans. the culture had changed so much they were focused on driven instead of the longstanding values of fair and caring and human. lou was so upset nawaz 2005 and he was away for so long and then everybody was busy. who wants to deal with him? it was a tragedy. >> host: what surprised you the most? >> one thing that continues
to surprise me every day how much the regulators could get away with. and is astounding with these institutions and even smaller ones like we just saw an iowa. so little regulation. the regulators were so focused on the turf battle is it you doing the exam or paying attention to what was going on. >> host: their paychecks depend on regulating lightly although the president is a muslin islamofacism
goldwater republican. [laughter] and continues to this day. >> before this we talked about the libor scandal. you can open the paper and read the latest. >> host: now it is spelled lie-bor. [laughter] we will take questions now. people average 10 questions so we don't have them on scene. i have been told to ask to more questions. how come you grab the "wall street journal" and dow was and? [laughter] 1/2 fined two kerry?
>> i hear he is. he has a house in palm desert. and his midlife crisis stage he bought a house is there. >> host: did he have the no doc loan? [laughter] >> i should ask about that. >> host: but not welcome at the reunions? >> no. i don't ever see his name on the invite list. but his ex-wife is. and -- moved back to new york so the second the bank failed he flew back. i hear he is working in financial-services but no where we would have heard of. >> host: the shareholders
were wiped out. you have is the book and. >> the bank fails. [laughter] >> host: we know that much [laughter] but those who were not a high rollers. >> that was the misconception. not just the short-sellers but mom and pop people who had invested since the ipo in the '80s. >> host: i am not screening this in advance.
why shouldn't kerry killinger be in prison and? [applause] >> we have talked a lot about the regulators but not the regulation. there has been multiple investigations into wamu including criminal along with other financial institutions. the short answer is there was no law at the time to hang these guys. they literally could find nothing illegal. we still have not seen high-level executives go to jail. they stove tried to push
forward the reform they could not do. >> host: igo if for want of trying. with the corporate lawyers, attorney-general and the banks there was not an urge to prosecute. if you could change any part of the book was a part wooded the? >> -- would it me. >> what i would write different or the books history? the first one? i would love to have talked to kerry killinger.
that would have changed the writing. i could have spent the entire book talking about the last month. how it was seized on the east coast that we did not know about. >> host: has anybody been prosecuted particularly executives? >> no. there was an attempt leading to a settlement? >> day fdic made in attempt to sue if kerry killinger and ahead of the mortgage division and steve portola for $1 billion and they settled out of court for a a
fraction at 64 in million in most of that was covered by the end negative insurance paula c. hafts so they paid almost nothing. >> host: if they got away with it. store for those who has shares of sound savings which was merged or their shares worth anything? >> probably not my suspicion is to not waste the brain damage. you'll have to look through the bankruptcy filing. i believe they reached a settlement so shareholders got hardly anything back her carry it back.
do think jpmorgan chase got an extraordinary deal? [laughter] with a the wamu assets and was a low-price justified from the associated problems? >> jpmorgan paid 1.9 billion dollars with $307 billion of assets. they got a screaming deal. they thought it was justified for the terrible mortgages. they have not kept jpmorgan from being profitable. the reason it wanted it anyway for the fast branch
network especially on the west coast. jpmorgan was really on the east coast. they are doing great. the deal of the century. >> too big to fail got bigger and we lost a major headquarters. what about delete into fish fish -- deloitte touche? the auditors or the most under examined during the financial crisis the board and many were on the board and old by the amazing performance kerry killinger had delivered decades before
and not asking tough questions mattel was too late then waited a long time to put in new management bush should have done it one year before they were among the highest-paid board in the country. only second to goldman sachs. >> host: you can see what money pays for. did the wall street collapse does that make sense? wheelock's our biggest financial institution.
transaction tax so they invest for economic activity. then you have repeal citizens united getting the politics out i am a columnist. >> my jetting why do think we have not heard from our own representatives? reaching out to multiple locations. after wamu collapsed made a show we will the investigation. we will figure out what will
happen then it was radio silence. and basically to vie knowledge has ignored it to just like patty murray. >> with these seem to of the aftershock scenario how does that affect two big to fail? >> i couldn't speculate the lingering quasi depression, the eurozone mess and the financial system engaged with risky behavior.
everyone is affected. see the jpmorgan chase massive trading loss but these institutions are so big they are shielded. with jpmorgan reporting profits they are gigantic knowing they are bailed out and it is called moral hazard. this is a great question. we get to two much inside baseball and describe the problems and the option arm
product and the aggressive push. >> our riskier product you could choose between options each month how to pay your loan. that concept is unbelievable. you could pay the minimum balance. then the amount you did not pay was tacked on to your principal. you think that you pay the minimum amount which by the way everyone did for the most part. why wouldn't you?
but wamu could sell option arm for a ridiculous amount of money to wall street they were making money like crazy >> amazing. how was a negative publicity about wamu? include being press reports. wamu had a blow up in 2004 but speaking how they had no infrastructure that emerged around 2004 when they tried
to foreclose on homeowners because they literally forgot to tell somebody to open the secure a box and pick up the check. states started suing and finally forced kerry killinger to get to the president and chief operating officer which was steeper tell a. it was starting to get pretty bad early 2007. >> you could amplify things. thank you for your book. i am a loan officer with 21
years' experience and you got it right. other than paul krugman nobody said this is a bubble did anybody else call it? yes. one reason i was thrown out of the next. [laughter] do you? >> no. absolutely not. there were people raising questions also the orthodoxy i haven't platform so i could call it. do jpmorgan gained anything
with the wamu failure? are you out there? [laughter] >> yes. they did nothing but game. more than 2,000 branches branches, employees, and basically four irked no amount of money. and the pesky mortgage problem. >> in the 1990's wamu had a large piece of land one of the last great pieces of primal habitat near camp pendleton. what happened to that? >> that is interesting. i don't know the answer. when i was researching i would spend in same amount
of time and it kept coming up. i said i wished had more time to figure out. i don't know the answer. >> i am given the signal to wind it up. after the collapse of wamu cell of jpmorgan wired did the 20 million come from to pay the it kerry killinger bonus? >> a great question. apparently there was just enough money left. [laughter] >> host: "the lost bank" kirsten grind thank you for being with us tonight.
[applause] >> recently booktv was that the books of shaped america at exhibit. we also want to issue an invitation to participate with the on-line discussion. what books you think should be included. we will show you what the library of congress came up with. if you are interested in participating comic e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. >> in new exhibit at the library of congress called the books that shaped america. we're taking a speeeleven
and roberta schaefer is the associate librarian. why isn't books that shaped america? >> first this change america because we think they slowly have an impact and shaped seem to be the better word. >> host: so what book comes to mind? >> that is a fabulous part. no one book is shaping america. and the essence of what america is. it would be impossible and improper to pick one book out of 88. >> host: it starts with common-sense. >> the earliest is ben
franklin's book on duchess city. we have to books on common sense. one is from dr. spock raising your child and a common-sense way and thomas paine who changed the american revolution. >> host: are they all first edition? >> no. but many would be first edition and very rare if not one-of-a-kind. some have inscriptions to books that i adore are part of the armed service our reach. we have two examples that soldiers were sent.
i believe now it is sent to the war front on the ipod but this was in the olden days. one is tarzan. i cannot remember. >> host: in this exhibit a lot of novels. >> yes. their critical not only the common people but highbrow some that appeal to people of all ages. visitor buys and "charlotte's web." >> also "gone with the wind" how does that shape america? >> with the aspirations had
kind of what their. that shows america as the innovative country to share her experience is broadly to inspire going to the frontier literally intellectual. >> host: you are in charge of the process? >> it was a large committee with no chairperson. we had a number of discussions it was not that difficult to select the books because it is not a definitive list. we decided we wanted to
choose books to get america talking. that was not as difficult as choosing 50 o 100 books. >> host: some have created social movements upton sinclair, rachel carson. >> not only read movements but some leading to legislation. like the jungle for legislatilegislati on from the fda being creative actually social change. >> host: n y 80 books? >> we were worried about
using it a number that is, men. we avoided 10, 25 and 100. we said we thought that was a good number. not giving the impression it was the 88. >> host: poetry and religious books? >> we have exemplars of poetry walt whitman even allen ginsberg. and clear it has been an impressive part of history and americans are committed to writing and reading poetry. >> we do have a bible although they would not be associated with a religion with those that
have likud tone to them and that is more representative to america than a particular religious book. we tried to look at the values and her spiritual persona rather than particular religious books. >> host: how did you get your start here? >> over 30 years ago as the first special assistant to the law library and out of law school. i fell in love with the library of congress you cannot keep me away. i run to work every morning and working here surrounded by books movies, of musical scores is us zero and a
privilege you will have trouble getting me to retire. >> host: is an open to the public? >> through the end of september but we never virtual version part of this is the open website asking people to comment on the books have selected of why something should not be on the list or added. we have heard from over 5,000 people and encourage everybody to go to our website.
you will find the list of the books and complete to very brief survey. >> host: last book was published 2002. >> we decided to put a cut off. that we have to give them an opportunity to prove their worth so we intend to keep looking at books that keep shave -- shaping america. so with 2012 when it stop and we will revisit. >> with the band played on and cesar chavez. >> and to raise the
consciousness cesar chavez is a leading voice when of america. >> host: worthies book's best sellers in their time? >> many continue to be even though that was not a specific criteria to carry a deals across the world what about emilie dickinson and book of poetry? of what we have here is the art book may have reproduced the book of poetry making a facsimile of her house made of recycled material she is
a phenomenal poet but we did not know about her until the mid 1950's in may could read hurt and edited. >> host: who did the edited -- editing? chemicals professionals like to make you can form. that was an awful construction. >> host: roberta shaffer books at shaped america is the name of the exhibit in washington d.c. right across from the nation's capital. >> that is the library of congress books that shaped american exhibit. we would like your employer it. what books do think should be included or should not be
included? if you like to participate in the on-line discussion that we will air on booktv we would like to hear from you. email@example.com. >> i am reading three books this summer i plan to travel i will read the books it is called across the bridge i want to go back and read it. i met with him on more than one occasion.