Great Recession, 2007-2010: Causes and Consequences
(11 pages of text)
A recession in the U.S. economy began at the end of 2007. Concerns deepened as an epic financial crisis shattered business and consumer confidence. By the fall of 2008, the United States was in the midst of the worst recession since the 1930s, and major financial institutions were on the verge of bankruptcy. The financial crisis and recession spread around the world. Many saw a risk that the global financial system might collapse, perhaps precipitating a repetition of the lengthy economic devastation of the 1930s depression. Governments reacted by creating huge stimulus packages that greatly increased national deficits and debts, and by loosening monetary policies with interest rates close to zero and huge expansions of the money supply. In their efforts to save the financial system, governments also offered bail-out packages to banks, including loans, guarantees and equity. By the fall of 2009, the crisis had stabilized, and the appearance of green shoots gave promise of recovery. By 2010, it was possible to put the financial crisis in perspective, and to raise questions about the causes and consequences. Of particular concern was whether new regulations might be needed to prevent a recurrence, and whether some of the tighter regulations should be international in scope. A related concern was whether such regulations should be applied to non-bank financial institutions as well as banks. Governments were also trying to determine how to exit the unique fiscal and monetary positions that now seemed to put their economies at risk of ongoing deficits and future inflation.
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