Pick Wayne's Brain

September 21, 2008

A Quiz About the Savings and Loan Scandal

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 6:14 PM

This was originally published in one of “Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers“, but I can’t find which one. It was written several years after the famous S&L Scandal of the ’80’s, and I have made only minor editorial changes. (Such as identifying Neil Bush as the current President Bush’s brother, as opposed to the former President Bush’s son.) The quiz was found on a Snopes.com comments page, so I can only hope that guy copied it right. Anyway, I hope you enjoy taking this True-False quiz. Answers and scoring guide are below the fold, along with some additional reminders about how one of the current presidential candidates fit into all this.

You, your children, and your grandchildren are going to be paying for the savings & loan scandal for years, but how much do you know about it? See if you can tell which of the following statements are true:

1. The S&L scandal is the second-largest theft in the history of the world.

2. Deregulation eased restrictions so much that S&L owners could lend money to themselves.

3. The Garn Institute of Finance, names after Senator Mike Garn–who co-authored the S&L deregulation bill–recieved $2.2 million from S&L industry executives.

4. For his part in running an S&L into the ground, Neil Bush, (President George W. Bush’s brother), served time in jail and was banned from future S&L involvement.

5. Rep. Fernand St. Germain, House banking chairman and co-author of the S&L deregulation bill, was voted out of office after some questionable financial dealings. were reported. The S&L industry immediately sent him back to Washington…as its lobbyist.

6. When asked whether his massive lobbying of government officials had influenced their conduct, London Savings president Charles Keating said, “Of course not. These are honorable men.”

7. The S&L rip-off began in 1980, when Congress raised federal insurance on S&L deposits from $40,000 to $100,000, even though the average depositor’s savings account was only $20,000.

8. Assets seized from failed S&Ls included a buffalo sperm bank, a racehorse with syphilis, and a kitty-litter mine.

9. Working with the government in a bailout deal, James Fail invested $1 million of his own money to purchase 15 failing S&Ls. In return, the government gave him $1.8 billion in federal subsidies.

10. Federal regulators sometimes stalled as long as seven years before closing hopelessly insolvent thrifts.

11. When S&L owners who stole millions went to jail, their jail sentences averaged about five times the average sentence for bank robbers.

12. The government S&L bailout will ultimately cost taxpayers as much as $500 billion.

13. If the White House had admitted the problem and bailed out failing thrifts in 1986, instead of waiting until after the 1988 election, the bailout might have cost only $20 billion.

14. With the money lost in the S&L rip-off, the federal government could provide prenatal care for every American child for the next 2,300 years.

15. With the money lost in the S&L rip-off, the federal government could have bought 5 million average houses.

16. The authors of Inside Job, a bestselling exposé of the S&L scandal, found evidence of criminal activity in 50% of the thrifts they investigated.


(1) F; it’s the largest.

(2) T

(3) T

(4) F

(5) T

(6) F; actually he said: “I certainly hope so.”

(7) F; all true, except the average savings account was only $6,000.

(8) T

(9) F; it was only $1,000 of his own money.

(10) T; partly because of politics, partly because Reagan’s people had fired 2/3 of the bank examiners needed to investigate S&L management.

(11) F; they served only a fifth of the time.

(12) F; it may hit $1.4 trillion.

(13) T

(14) T

(15) T

(16) F; they found criminal activity in all of the S&Ls they researched.


13-16 right: Sadder, but wiser.

6-12 right: Just sadder.

0-5 right: Charles Keating would like to talk to you about buying some bonds.

Yes, Charles Keating. Of the Keating Five fame.

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