Did WaMu's Advertising Tell Us Something?

Posted by: Chris Palmeri on September 26, 2008

wamu.jpg

Whoo Hoo!
That’s what many Washington Mutual customers are saying as several weeks of turmoil at the nation’s largest savings and loan comes to an end. WaMu is being acquired by an even larger rival, J.P. Morgan Chase, whose name alone promises some stability.

There’s lot of sadness here of course. WaMu shareholders have gotten wiped out—lost everything. That’s not true of Alan Fishman, WaMU ceo for all of two weeks, who might be entitled to $18 million in severance and signing bonus.

Then there are the employees of both WaMu and Chase who will lose their jobs. Chase CEO Jamie Dimon say the company will close about 10% or 500 of the combined branches.

WaMu’slending practices were clearly bad. But the company’s TV advertisements provided a lot of humor in an industry not known for levity. Maybe the takeaway here is that your bank shouldn’t run funny ads depicting other bankers as fat old guys in suits, drinking champagne and soaking customers for fees. Maybe we were all suckered by WaMu’s cappuccinos and free Internet service in branches.

Or maybe we can continue to hope there are bankers out there who take their business—but not themselves—seriously.

Reader Comments

ballbuster

September 27, 2008 4:02 AM

Monday night quarterbacking is Palmeri's talent and kicking a company when it is down is Palmeri's speciality. Since Palmeri is so perceptive that he can foresee the demise of WaMu from its ads, why did not Palmeri warn BW readers months ago? Because Palmeri didn't know like everyone but unlike everyone he won't admit his ignorance today. He now wants to hide his ignorance by indicting and ridiculing WaMu's mistake. Readers are not fooled by his misdirected attacks. Unfortunately for Palmeri, calling out WaMu's mistake at his late stage does not make him clairvoyant but rather a person who kicks a dead horse. Palmeri trys so hard to be known as the prognosticator that BW readers are seeing how delusional Palmeri has become. Within the past the six months, Palmeri wrote without shame about how real estate sale numbers indicate the housing bust has reached the market bottom or investors should keep FannieMae notes or buying opportunities that are immuned to the housing bust. Recent economic events have proven Palmeri has been wrong on more than one occasion. The interesting question to Palmeri is why he has not ridiculed, indicted and kicked himself for being wrong in so many of his opinions.

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About

BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.

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