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The Lost Bank

The Story of Washington Mutual-The Biggest Bank Failure in American History

During the most dizzying days of the financial crisis, Washington Mutual, a bank with hundreds of billions of dollars in its coffers, suffered a crippling bank run. The story of its final, brutal collapse in the autumn of 2008, and its controversial sale to JPMorgan Chase, is an astonishing account of how one bank lost itself to greed and mismanagement, and how the entire financial industry—and even the entire country— lost its way as well. Kirsten Grind’s The Lost Bank is a magisterial and gripping account of these events, tracing the cultural shifts, the cockamamie financial engineering, and the hubris and avarice that made this incredible story possible. The men and women who become the central players in this tragedy— the regulators and the bankers, the home buyers and the lenders, the number crunchers and the shareholders—are heroes and villains, perpetrators and victims, often switching roles with one another as the drama unfolds. As a reporter at the time for the Puget Sound Business Journal, Grind covered a story set far from the epicenters of finance and media. It happened largely in places such as the suburban homes of central California and the office buildings of Seattle, but Grind covered the story from the beginning, and the clarity and persistence of her reporting earned her many awards, including being named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Gerald Loeb Award. She takes readers into boardrooms and bedrooms, revealing the power struggles that pitted regulators at the Office of Thrift Supervision and the FDIC against one another and the predatory negotiations of investment bankers and lawyers who enriched themselves during the bank’s rise and then devoured the decimated bank in its final days. Written as compellingly as the finest fiction, The Lost Bank makes it clear that the collapse of Washington Mutual was not just the largest bank failure in American history. It is a story of talismanic qualities, reflecting the incredible rise and the precipitous collapse of not only an institution but of trust, fortunes, and the marketplaces for risk across the world.

Kirsten Grind’s The Lost Bank is a magisterial and gripping account of these events, tracing the cultural shifts, the cockamamie financial engineering, and the hubris and avarice that made this incredible story possible.

The World Bank

Its First Half Century

This effort constitutes the most comprehensive and authoritative work to date on the history of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or the World Bank. Author-editors John Lewis, Richard Webb, and Devesh Kapur chronicle the evolution of this institution and offer insights into its successes, failures, and prospects for the future. The result of their intense labors is an invaluable resource for other researchers and a fascinating study in its own right. The work is divided into two volumes. The first is organized thematically and examines the critical events and policy issues in the World Bank's development over the last fifty years. Chapter topics include poverty alleviation, structural adjustment lending, environmental programs, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the International Development Association (IDA), and the evolution of the Bank as an institution. The second volume contains case studies written by experts with experience in the various regions in which the Bank operates. There are chapters on the Bank's activities in Korea, Mexico, Africa, South Asia, and Eastern Europe. Volume 2 also contains essays on the World Bank's relationship with the United States, Japan, and Western Europe, and its partnership with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). By special arrangement, the authors have had wide-ranging access to confidential documents at the World Bank, making this work a unique source of information on the internal workings of this critical institution. They have also drawn on extensive interviews with current and past Bank officials. Moreover, publication could not be more timely, coming as it does when many in the development community and in the U.S. Congress are questioning the Bank's track record and even its reason for existence. The World Bank: Its First Half Century will be of great interest not only to development practitioners but also to students of international relations, development economics, and global finance. During the course of the project, John P. Lewis and Richard Webb were nonresident senior fellows, and Devesh Kapur was a program associate, in the Foreign Policy Studies program at the Brookings Institution.

By special arrangement, the authors have had wide-ranging access to confidential documents at the World Bank, making this work a unique source of information on the internal workings of this critical institution.

Failed Bank

FDIC Documentation of CrossLand Savings, FSB, Decision was Inadequate : Report to Congressional Requesters

Issues in Central Bank Finance and Independence

Conventional economic policy models focus only on selected elements of the central bank balance sheet, in particular monetary liabilities and sometimes foreign reserves. The canonical model of an "independent" central bank assumes that it chooses money (or an interest rate), unconstrained by a need to generate seignorage for itself or government. While a long line of literature has emphasized the dangers of fiscal dominance influencing the conduct of monetary policy the idea that an independent central bank could be constrained in achieving its policy objectives by its own balance sheet situation is a relatively novel idea considered in this paper. If one accepts this potential constraint as a valid concern, the financial strength of the central bank as a stand alone entity becomes highly relevant for ascertaining monetary policy credibility. We consider several strands of evidence that clearly indicate fiscal backing for central banks cannot be assumed and hence financial independence is relevant to operational independence. First we examine 135 central bank laws to illustrate the variety of legal approaches adopted with respect to central bank financial independence. Second, we examine the same data set with regard to central bank recapitalization provisions to show that even in cases where the treasury is nominally responsible for maintaining the central bank financially strong, it may do so in purely a cosmetic fashion. Third, we show that, in actual practice, treasuries have frequently not provided central banks with genuine financial support on a timely basis leaving them excessively reliant on seignorage to finance their operations and/or forcing them to abandon policy objectives.

Conventional economic policy models focus only on selected elements of the central bank balance sheet, in particular monetary liabilities and sometimes foreign reserves.

Financial Reforms in Sudan: Streamlining Bank Intermediation

The paper reviews the experience of financial reforms in Sudan with a view to assessing their macroeconomic impact and to shedding light on the question why such reforms have not yet brought about visible improvements in financial intermediation. The paper concludes that regardless of the progress achieved in recent years, deficiencies in the reform design, institutional weaknesses, shallow financial markets, shortcomings of the Islamic mode of finance, and strong seasonality remain key factors that constrain financial intermediation. Additional efforts, in particular in bank restructuring, credit instrument design, monetary policy management, and prudential regulation are needed to address the systemic problems of the financial sector and to make it capable of supporting private sector growth.