THE BASIS POINT

JP Morgan Paid $4.1b for WAMU & Bear Stearns. Now $4b Buys Instagram & Angry Birds.

Cleaning out an office and found this coffee thermos. To clarify my hasty photography, it says:

LONG BEACH MORTGAGE | SPECIALTY HOME LOANS | WASHINGTON MUTUAL

If by “specialty” you mean low and no doc financing up to 100% of a home’s value, then yes, WAMU’s Long Beach division was specialty. But excessive Specialty like that led to their demise.

Sad too. WAMU made their first mortgage loan in 1890 as a local Seattle bank, and was a model of stability for 100 years.

Then they made 29 acquisitions from 1990 to 2006, fostered one of the nation’s largest wholesale networks, relaxed loan approval guidelines to fuel originations which would then fuel securitizations, then became the largest bank failure in American history on September 25, 2008.

Interesting to see this as I’m readying offices for new hires. A sober reminder of the dark side of fast growth for the wrong reasons.

And it also caused me to go back and re-read how it all went down:

JP Morgan Chase Buys WAMU for Just $1.9b After It Fails. Gets WAMU & Bear For $4.1b.

So in 2008, $4b got you one of the largest retail bank networks in the country plus a global investment bank.

Today $4b gets you Dropbox. Or it would get you Instagram (sold for $1b) plus Angry Birds maker Rovio (valued around $3b).

Crazy times…
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$JPM $XLF, $FB