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Anatomy of a disaster

Kevin Chinnery | Nov. 27, 2008
Who is to blame for the financial crisis?

June 2008: National Australia Bank survey shows first sharp downturns in consumer and business confidence.

July 2008: The dollar hits a post-float high of US98.49¢ as investors charge into commodities. The boom stokes inflation to make it a double whammy for the global economy.

July 25 2008: NAB announces the biggest Australian exposure to sub-prime crisis, with an $830 million write-off of sub-prime-related assets.

September 7: US government-backed mortgage investors are nationalised as investors panic.

September 15: US government allows Lehman Brothers to go under. Merrill Lynch sells itself to Bank of America.

September 16: AIG, world's largest insurer, is nationalised as prices of derivatives it insured collapse.

September 18: Wall Street slides in biggest collapse of confidence since 1929.

September 19: US Treasury secretary Henry Paulson announces a $US700 billion fund to buy tarnished debt assets.

September 29: US Congress baulks at Paulson rescue plan. Biggest points slide in Wall Street history. The Australian government gives $4 billion backing to non-bank mortgage lending.

September 30: Overnight US dollar LIBOR hits 6.88 per cent.

October 1: US Congress passes rescue plan.

October 8: Seven central banks announce co-ordinated rate cuts. Market panic continues as Chicago VIX index of market volatility - "the fear index" - hits 59.1. It usually trades at 15 to 19. By November 1, it will hit 89.

October 11-12: G7 and G20 meet in Washington as the world waits for action. In Australia, the government announces it will give unlimited guarantees on bank deposits to settle investor fears.

October 13: In the UK, Prime Minister Gordon Brown commits potentially almost a third of annual GDP to strike directly at bank liquidity and the solvency crisis. Other European nations launch similar schemes.

October 14: Federal government announces a pre-emptive strike against recession: a $10.4 billion fiscal stimulus package - half of the surplus. US bites the bullet on nationalisation. Major US banks are told they must take up to $US250 billion in government equity.

October 15: Wall Street's biggest fall since 1987, of 7.87 per cent.

October 21: RBA chief Glenn Stevens says that action by governments means the "likelihood of a global catastrophe has declined in recent weeks".

October 28: US Fed drops interest rate to 1 per cent to help prevent recession, falling from 5.25 per cent in just over a year. Interbank rates continuing to thaw slightly as banks lend government bail-out money - if not their own - to each other.

October 31: On the first anniversary of the S&P/ASX 200's peak of 6828.7 points, the index opens at 4001 points. October sees the biggest loss on the All Ordinaries since October 1987. The dollar hits its lowest point since its 1983 float.

 

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