Eyes open, WaMu still failed
In the crazy days of 2005 and 2006, when home prices were soaring and mortgage underwriting standards were crumbling, it took foresight and judgment to see that it was all a bubble. As it happens, there was a bank chief executive whose internal forecasts now seem prescient. “I have never seen such a high-risk housing market,” he wrote to the bank’s chief risk officer in 2005. A year later he forecast the housing market would be “weak for quite some time as we unwind the speculative bubble.” At that same bank, executives checking for fraudulent mortgage applications found that at one bank office 42% of loans reviewed showed signs of fraud, “virtually all of it attributable to some sort of employee malfeasance or failure to execute company policy.” A report recommended “firm action” against the employees involved.