Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #242: WaMu

J.P. Morgan to Take Over Faltering WaMu
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. was expected to announce as early as Thursday night a deal to acquire the bulk of Washington Mutual Inc.'s operations in a deal that would mark the end of independence for what once was the largest U.S. thrift.

Federal regulators have been heavily involved in orchestrating the transaction, which comes as WaMu was besieged by a mountain of bad mortgage loans. Seattle-based WaMu has been scrambling to find a solution and put itself on the auction block last week. A number of interested parties have been poring over WaMu's books, but the bank didn't receive any offers.

While the exact structure of the transaction wasn't immediately known, J.P. Morgan is expected to acquire Washington Mutual's deposits and branches, as well as other operations. The deal isn't expected to result in any hit to the bank-insurance fund, according to a person familiar with the arrangement. But it's likely that another arm of government would have to pick up the tab. Some analysts have worried that a WaMu failure could cost more than $20 billion.

Emphasis added by me.

A shotgun marriage.

J.P. Morgan also acquired Bear Stearns earlier this year.

Someone who works on Wall Street put this in perspective: "Do you know what just happened? Now J.P. Morgan has become 'too big to fail'!"

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