nds, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, New Century Financial
When the Wall Street evangelists started preaching "no bailout for you" before the collapse of British bank Northern Rock, they hardly knew that history would ultimately have the last laugh. With the onset of the global credit crunch and the fall of Northern Rock, August 2007 turned out to be just the starting point for big financial landslides. Since then, we have seen many big names rise, fall, and fall even more. In this article, we'll recap how the financial crisis of 2007-08 unfolded. (For further reading, see Who Is To Blame For The Subprime Crisis?, The Bright Side Of The Credit Crisis and How Will The Subprime Mess Impact You?)
Before the Beginning
Like all previous cycles of booms and busts, the seeds of the subprime meltdown were sown during unusual times. In 2001, the U.S. economy experienced a mild, short-lived recession. Although the economy nicely withstood terrorist attacks, the bust of the dotcom bubble, and accounting scandals, the fear of recession really preoccupied everybody's minds. (Keep learning about bubbles in Why Housing Market Bubbles Pop and Economic Meltdowns: Let Them Burn Or Stamp Them Out?)
To keep recession away, the Federal Reserve lowered the Federal funds rate 11 times - from 6.5% in May 2000 to 1.75% in December 2001 - creating a flood of liquidity in the economy. Cheap money, once out of the bottle, always looks to be taken for a ride. It found easy prey in restless bankers - and even more restless borrowers who had no income, no job and no assets. These subprime borrowers wanted to realize their life's dream of acquiring a home. For them, holding the hands of a willing banker was a new ray of hope. More home loans, more home buyers, more appreciation in home prices. It wasn't long before things started to move just as the cheap money wanted them to.
This environment of easy credit and the upward spiral of home prices made investments in higher yielding...
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