"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

The seizure of WaMu

The biggest savings and loan in the country, and one of the leading businesses in the Northwest, Washington Mutual, has been seized and decomposed.

The company doesn’t even mention the development on its news release page. But what happened is that federal regulators with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation today seized ownership, and sold most of it to JP Morgan Chase. A press release from the latter says:

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) tonight announced it has
acquired all deposits, assets and certain liabilities of Washington Mutual’s banking operations from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), effective immediately. Excluded from the transaction are the senior unsecured debt, subordinated debt, and preferred stock of Washington Mutual’s banks. JPMorgan Chase will not be acquiring any assets or liabilities of the banks’ parent holding company (WM) or the holding company’s non-bank subsidiaries. As part of this transaction, JPMorgan Chase will make a payment of approximately $1.9 billion to the FDIC.

The acquisition expands Chase’s consumer branch network into the attractive states of California, Florida and Washington State and creates the nation’s second-largest branch network – with locations reaching 42% of the U.S. population. The combined 5,400 branches in 23 states will also serve as an excellent base to extend the reach of the business banking, commercial banking, credit card, consumer lending and wealth management businesses. The acquisition also extends Chase’s retail branch network to additional states, including Georgia, Idaho, Nevada and Oregon.

Oh joy – another corporate buyout of a formerly Northwest-based business. How do you suppose the customer, employee and community-relations components of this one will play out? Along the lines, perhaps, of those previous?

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