Andrew Ross Sorkin, NYT, is reporting that Seattle based Washington Mutual has initiated efforts to sell itself. Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., the investment management, banking, and securities firm apparently began looking for buyers under the radar screen several days ago. Sorkin says that potential buyers include Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, and HSBC. So far there appears to be no takers leaving the question of whether federal authorities will need to once again step in to place America's largest savings-and-loan institution in government conservatorship.
Sorkin and Ben White, also of the NYT, report that the once respected investment bank Morgan Stanley is considering a merger with Wachovia Bank in an apparent attempt to stave off another bankruptcy similar to Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. whose insolvency and subsequent banruptcy filing sent gyrations through world markets on Monday.
Stock markets in North America, throughout Europe, and across Asia plunged again on Wednesday following the Federal Reserve's market intervention in a last minute effort to bailout troubled insurance giant American International Group (AIG).
International reports noted that AIA (subsidiary of AIG), the Asian branch of the now primarily US government-owned American International Group, had crowds of angry customers lining up outside branch offices to cash in insurance policies. Many AIA customers expressed disappointment and anger over the status of the US insurance giant: they bought AIG because it was an American brand.
In Moscow, Russian financial regulators halted trading on the Micex at ten minutes after noon, according to Andrew E. Kramer of the NYT. The Micex was down 3.09% and the RTS lost 6.39% at the stop of trading Wednesday.
In London, Lloyds TSB Group was in negotiations to purchase rival HBOS the UK's largest mortgage firm, Julia Werdigier, NYT, reported. The price of gold on the London Bullion Market jumped to $813 from a start of $779.50 at the close yesterday as unnerved investors sought relief in the precious metal amidst widespread uncertainty and financial volatility.
The $85 billion intervention to save AIG by the US government did little to reassure frantic investors looking for a safe haven in unsteady seas.
Part of the unease with the Federal Reserve's latest activism in the private sector is inconsistency: the Fed had hoped for a private remedy for AIG's ills over the weekend and had refused to intervene.
Following Monday's sharp drop in stock indices around the globe, the US government felt it had little choice but to intervene to head off a wider meltdown in the world financial sytem.
Canadian news indicated the toll the financial crisis is taking on the United States.
Canada's globeandmail.com reports:"Pressure is building on the pristine triple-A rating of the United States following a federal bailout of American International Group Inc., the chairman of Standard & Poor's sovereign ratings committee said Wednesday."
"The $85-billion (U.S.) bailout of AIG on Tuesday by the U.S. Federal Reserve 'has weakened the fiscal profile of the United States,' S&P's John Chambers told Reuters in an interview.'Lack of a pro-active stance could have resulted in further financial stress and put pressure on the U.S. triple-A rating,' Mr. Chambers said. 'There's no God-given gift of a 'AAA' rating, and the U.S. has to earn it like everyone else.'"
Breitbart.com noted that on Monday, September 15, 2008, US Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain of Arizona, remarked that the American economy was fundamentally sound.
That statement didn't reflect the reality of the market turmoil swirling around him, however.
Steve Ladurantaye of Candada's Globe& Mail reported: “'Fundamentals or any other methods that might be used to measure the market have been thrown out the window,' said Ken McCord, chief executive officer of Webb Asset Management in Toronto. 'This is mass liquidation on a scale I've never seen before. What's going on is a great unwinding of highly leveraged accounts.'”
McCain also suggested that a commission be established to study the financial problem.