14 September 2008

Is Lehman the Fifth Horseman?

I received this e-mail from my pals at Ing Direct at about the same time that Lehman Brothers were preparing to file for bankruptcy. If you missed it, Lehman's failure will be the biggest bank failure in US history and marks yet another lurch toward the abyss. This is bad and not to incite a bigger financial panic than the one that will greet the morning, but if you're smart you'll get your money out of Washington Mutual while you can...

Why is the financial sector meltdown not an issue in this presidential campaign? The roll back regulation crowd and market fetishists are awfully quiet and seem to be counting on the usual smokescreens and tabloid-derived wedge issues to make this go away. "He called her a pig!" "She's a hockey mom gals can relate to!" "She's qualified! She can field dress a moose!" "He wants to teach sex ed to kindygartners!" "She's a reformer!" Well, let see her, or anybody for that matter, reform this mess. That is, if it doesn't destroy the world economy first.

Anyhow, thank you Ing. Leave it up to a non-US-owned bank to run a bank properly. Read this man's surprisingly candid advice and believe like I do.

Dear Paul,
Customer Number: XXXXXXX178

As we enter the final few months of 2008, I want to thank you for your continued confidence in ING DIRECT. Over 700,000 new Savers have joined us so far this year strengthening the bank and their own financial footing through our savings, home mortgage and ShareBuilder investment accounts. Despite a challenging economic climate, our Customer base is 7 million strong and growing.

The consequences of the mortgage meltdown on financial institutions and individuals continue to erode many Americans' dreams. We will continue to stress the right way to achieve home ownership – buying only as much house as you can afford and paying off your mortgage as fast as possible. In return for good credit and prioritizing home investment, ING DIRECT mortgage Customers are rewarded with exceptional rates and a transparent, direct administration process. Rather than selling your mortgage to another bank or investor the minute you get it, we keep your mortgage and service it here. Doing so gives us flexibility to find innovative solutions to help Customers keep their homes during unexpected financial downturns.

While we don’t have an Orange crystal ball, we do expect the economy to remain fragile through 2009. The best course of action for our Customers is to be disciplined: avoid splurging; identify and cut out unnecessary expenses and save for what's essential; and hedge against those tough times. We can all benefit by developing good spending habits: confront - and cut up - credit cards; use your home as a savings vehicle - not as an ATM; and establish and contribute regularly to an IRA or 401(k).

In this difficult financial environment, we work tirelessly to safeguard your deposits, mortgages and investments. Importantly, your deposits are FDIC-insured according to its limits and your investments are SIPC-protected. Our security processes are the best in the business and are in place to protect your savings from those with bad intentions. While we are constantly vigilant, we need your help. Keep passwords to yourself. Never give personal information through an email. And always install both the latest antivirus and anti-malware software on your home computer.

Thank you for your continued trust in
ING DIRECT. We will not waver in our promise to provide you with great value, service, security and convenience.

Arkadi Kuhlmann
CEO of Savings


1 South Orange Street
Wilmington, DE 19801

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