Saturday, September 27, 2008

Close To Home

I have been refusing to think that economic issues are related to me not having a job yet. There are several reasons. First, jobs I am interested in and qualified for are being posted. Second, I have a graduate degree, experience, a strong work ethic, and a great attitude. I am a competitive candidate. The biggest reason I don't want to consider the economy as the factor in my job hunt struggles is because I don't want a 'I am a pawn of my environment' mentality right now. I am still full of 'I can make a difference' optimism, and it is one of my assets. I don't want to sacrifice that for defeatist talk about how the economy is keeping me unemployed. I know that goings on of Wall Street have destroyed people's lives, but my life is pretty good. I just need a job. So, despite my new proximity to everything that is going on, I have been distancing myself.

The Washington Mutual buy out hit too close to home. I use to work at Washington Mutual in wholesale loans. I was the administrative assistant to the regional director. My job was administrative and organizational. I didn't have to understand anything about loans to do it. Mainly, I set up meetings and conference calls, created spreadsheets and memos, and answered the phone. The only thing that made this different than any other administrative assistant job was that whenever the interest rate went up, my life was on hold until all of our people knew it.

We sold wholesale loans, and my understanding of what that means, is that we sold bundles of loans to places like A1 Mortgage (not a real place). Then A1 Mortgage would give individual loans to the individuals who needed them. It made sense to me as a way to let smaller lenders give out bigger loans and keep us from having to manage each and every loan. It seemed to me that we always talked about loans as if they hadn't been given to people yet. It seems to be discussed in the opposite way on the news lately. I heard a story saying that part of the early problems when people started defaulting on their loans was that the banks had loans that they packaged up and sold to other banks. Those were then repackaged and resold. This happened for a couple intervals so that the loans got split up and spread out pretty good. Then too many people would default and one of the lenders in this chain would disappear. Along with it was their paperwork, leaving a lot of confusion about who owned these defaulting loans and who's responsibility the foreclosure was. This explanation talks about the loans as already having been given out.

I realize that I could have just assumed we were 'selling' the money/credit to give out loans instead of buying the loans that were already given out because that is what made sense to me. Whether or not I understood was never important. I just know that the packaging of loans was part of the problem, I worked on a floor that didn't handle any individual loans, and now that bank is gone. Waking up one morning to WaMu being gone has really changed my perspective on all of this. I use to think that this economic thing was so big it affected all of us. Now it is so big that we are all involved.

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