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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Feds Seize Washington Mutual, Sell it off to J.P. Morgan

Greetings, comrades! The Imperialist propagandists at the The Wall Street Journal bring news of yet another great socialist victory!
In what is by far the largest bank failure in U.S. history, federal regulators seized Washington Mutual Inc. and struck a deal to sell the bulk of its operations to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

The collapse of the Seattle thrift, which was triggered by a wave of deposit withdrawals, marks a new low point in the country's financial crisis. But the deal, as constructed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., could hold some glimmers of hope for the beleaguered banking system because it averts any hit to the bank-insurance fund.

Instead, J.P. Morgan agreed to pay $1.9 billion to the government for WaMu's banking operations and will assume the loan portfolio of the $307 billion thrift. The full cost to J.P. Morgan will be much higher, because it plans to write down about $31 billion of the bad loans and raise $8 billion in new capital. All WaMu depositors will have access to their cash, but holders of more than $30 billion in debt and preferred stock will likely see little if any recovery.

The deal will vault J.P. Morgan into first place in nationwide deposits and greatly expand its franchise.

The seizure was another watershed event in a frenetic period for the U.S. banking system, and came while members of Congress wrangled over the Bush administration's proposed $700 billion bailout package. The tally of U.S. financial giants that have either been seized by the government or sold themselves off to stronger firms in recent weeks includes mortgage titans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, insurer American International Group Inc., and Wall Street firms Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co.

The failure of WaMu eclipsed what had long been America's largest bank bust on record, the 1984 collapse of Continental Illinois, which had $40 billion in assets.

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