Los Mariachis de Oaxaca

In today’s New York Times via Obsidian Wings.

It’s hard to know what to excerpt here. The whole article is so shocking, you should really read the whole thing. However, this part was too good to not quote.

Yet even by WaMu’s relaxed standards, one mortgage four years ago raised eyebrows. The borrower was claiming a six-figure income and an unusual profession: mariachi singer.

Mr. Parsons could not verify the singer’s income, so he had him photographed in front of his home dressed in his mariachi outfit. The photo went into a WaMu file. Approved.

Note to my bank: please include the photo to the right in my loan application.

WaMu gave mortgage brokers handsome commissions for selling the riskiest loans, which carried higher fees, bolstering profits and ultimately the compensation of the bank’s executives. WaMu pressured appraisers to provide inflated property values that made loans appear less risky, enabling Wall Street to bundle them more easily for sale to investors.

“It was the Wild West,” said Steven M. Knobel, a founder of an appraisal company, Mitchell, Maxwell & Jackson, that did business with WaMu until 2007. “If you were alive, they would give you a loan. Actually, I think if you were dead, they would still give you a loan.”

I’m a little sad to see Wamu flushed down the tubes like this. I have my business checking acount with them and they’ve always given me good customer service. Yes, their new branches do look more like cell phone stores than banks, but that’s a small price to pay.