Happy Birthday, Global Financial Crisis
First Published: ADawnJournal.com September 24, 2009
There has been so much said over the past couple of years about the dangers of recession, and much still to be said, but one event seen by many as the moment that the global financial crisis became a fact was the collapse of the American investment bank Lehman Brothers. It was one year ago this week that the bank went bust, and the realities of the crisis became clear to everyone at that point. If the Global Financial Crisis has a birthday, that date is the 16th of September. One year on, where are we in terms of the global financial situation?
The collapse of Lehman Brothers marked the point where governments around the world decided that intervention was the way to go. From that point on, many banks have been effectively nationalised – an act which in itself was massively controversial, seeing diverse reactions in different countries. In America, for example, Barack Obama’s determination to bolster the banking sector and revive the world’s largest economy led to accusations of totalitarianism, communism and Nazism. It may sound amusing, but this reaction was, seemingly, entirely serious. In other nations, a sense of skepticism over bank bailouts also persisted, but the bailouts are ratified now and the recovery is in place.
Would the world’s economy have bounced back in such a way and so soon without the government interventions that took place in most of the larger economies? It seems unlikely. Certainly, the banks which have received bailout cash have posted mixed results, with Goldman Sachs posting record numbers very shortly after receiving their lifeline, while others have suffered record losses. But many independent sources feel that the recession is in its last blasts and that this is due in no small part to government intervention. No government has given any indication that further bailout cash will be released, however, so it is now very much a matter of waiting for the situation to stabilise.
While we wait for that, it is believed that the recession has yet to do the last of its work in the sphere of employment. A recent report from the OECD claims that as many as 15million people worldwide have lost their jobs as a result of the financial crisis, and that there could yet be another 10million people made unemployed. Although economic results are improving, the effects of the recession will still be felt for a while to come.
While it would be fair to say that the financial sector has always had its critics, the overwhelming thread running through public reaction to the situation has been one of severe distrust of banks and bankers, and of injustice at the bailouts given to banks while many other industries have been left to fend for themselves. There is still a reluctance on the part of the banks to lend to customers – much to the chagrin of the governments which released the cash to save them – and it might be a while before the stability being claimed for the global economy is seen in the bank accounts and employment prospects of the “man on the street”. This story has some time to run as it blows out the solitary candle on its birthday cake.