July 14, 2008— -- After the country's largest bank failure in two decades, hundreds of anxious customers, some who had come hundreds of miles, waited in line today outside IndyMac bank headquarters in Pasadena, Calif.
Customers were desperate to get their hands on their money -- for some, their entire retirement funds were behind IndyMac's doors -- many were in disbelief as they attempted to collect their savings.
"This is my retirement ... it's very serious," one customer said. "A Starbucks shuts down. A bank doesn't just shut down."
Most will collect their money; the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation covers the first $100,000 for each affected person.
But the failure of IndyMac, a bank with a history of high-risk, sub-prime loans, illustrates the fragility of the market and the mounting fear felt by consumers and investors.
Some regulators blame IndyMac's failure on a single senator -- New York Democrat Chuck Schumer. In Late June, Schumer released a letter detailing why IndyMac might fail, causing customers to withdraw hundreds of millions of dollars a day.
Schumer defended himself against these mounting accusations.
"The regulator here was asleep at the wheel," Schumer said. "The administration is doing what they always do ... blame the fire on the person who called 911."
However, the banking industry's woes extend far beyond IndyMac. That fear is now giving way to a scramble to determine which banks might collapse next. On Wall Street, Monday, Washington Mutual's stock plunged 35 percent in a single day. National City is down almost 15 percent.
Investment houses and large pension funds are compiling lists of banks that might go under.
The FDIC gathered a list of 90 banks it considers "in trouble." The list constitutes merely 1 percent of the institutions the FDIC insures; IndyMac was not included on the list.
Regulators predict that more than 100 banks will go under in the next year or so. Most of them are regional banks that specialized in riskier loans when the housing market was booming.
The FDIC is allocated $53 billion to cover bank failures. It expects to spend roughly 10 percent of that -- between $4 billion and $8 billion -- to bail out IndyMac alone. However, the rest of that money could go fast.