New Book on Epic Bank Failure Praises Former CEO Louis Pepper '51

In the opening chapter of a new book by Kristen Grind, UW Law alumnus Louis Pepper '51 gets extensive recognition for his management of a failing bank in the 1980s. Grind's Book, The Lost Bank: The Story of Washington Mutual-The Biggest Bank Failure in American History, chronicles WaMu's story--from its eventual success under Pepper to its notorious fall in 2008.

Pepper, then a Seattle attorney, reluctantly took the helm of the failing bank in 1981, and by 1983 had resigned from his law firm to take Washington Mutual public. In his nine-year tenure as CEO, Pepper rescued the bank from some interest rate difficulties (just before the savings and loan crisis) and brought it to profitability. According to Grind, Pepper--who was known as a folksy, frugal leader--also restored Washington Mutual's reputation as a hometown bank, a "friend of the family."

Two decades after Pepper's retirement in 1988, Washington Mutual, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, thus becoming the largest bank failure in United States history. Grind, at the time a financial reporter for the Puget Sound Business Journal, received a 2008 Pulitzer nomination for her coverage of the Washington Mutual collapse. has named The Lost Bank, published in June 2012, to its Best Books of the Year, So Far list.

Learn more about The Lost Bank.

Submitted by Law School News on July 11, 2012

This article appears in the categories: Alumni, Articles

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