Yeah, I’m sure all those concerns about the stability of the nation’s financial system are overblown. So what if the government seized the country’s largest depository institution after its souring mortgage portfolio triggered write-downs and losses and a lack of confidence that triggered more than $16 billion in deposit outflows in 10 days and insufficient liquidity to meet its obligations? It’s not as though Jamie Dimon wasn’t around to ride to the rescue. Private-sector solutions! Next time, it’ll be Ken Lewis’s turn again.
Here’s a quick run-down of what JPMorgan Chase’s purchase of Washington Mutual means if you’re….
A WaMu customer. Nothing changes yet. Go to your favorite branch tomorrow, take some cash out of the ATM. If you were about to mail in a mortgage or credit card payment, still do that. All the phone numbers and web sites and account numbers stay the same for now. They’ll give you plenty of heads up before anything changes. JPMorgan is really, really happy to be getting branches in states like California, Oregon, Washington and Florida, and a normal amount of happy to be getting branches elsewhere. On the conference call tonight, they said they think they’ll only wind up closing about 10% of the combined branches.
Wondering how many more times the FDIC can afford to bail out banks. Good question. And one we don’t have to worry about too much tonight since the FDIC flipped the bulk of WaMu to JPMorgan as soon as it took over. There’d been concern that the FDIC would run its deposit insurance fund dangerously low if it had to seize WaMu. The FDIC fund stood at $45 billion at the end of June (thanks to having to deal with IndyMac), and WaMu could have cost the FDIC up to $20 billion or $30 billion. Instead, JPMorgan is paying the FDIC $1.9 billion, a figure that was determined by a bidding process.
Thinking those big thoughts about the mortgage-related securities JPMorgan is taking onto its books. JPMorgan is taking on about $176 billion of WaMu home loans, and marking down almost $31 billion of that right off the bat. On the conference call, the JPMorgan execs said they’d had a lot of time to get into WaMu and evaluate what everything was worth and figure out how big a hit they’d wind up taking and if they could handle it. If you go here, click on “Presentation,” and flip to page 17, you’ll see that JPMorgan’s worst-case scenario assumes home prices fall another 20% nationwide.
A Washington Mutual stockholder. I’m really sorry, but it looks like you’re getting wiped out, along with some bondholders. All I can tell you is that you’re not alone. Back in April, the private equity firm TPG, which employs a lot of really smart people, led a group of investors that plowed $7 billion of capital into WaMu. There are a lot of folks not having fun over this.