Ten years ago today, Lehman Brothers was in its death throes, on the way to a bankruptcy that would turn a slow-burning financial crisis into a five-alarm, systemic fire. Today and tomorrow, Bloomberg Opinion writers are looking back at the crisis and assessing what we’ve learned and where we’re still vulnerable.
Ten years ago, amid a worsening subprime mortgage crisis, the U.S. government did what few have dared: It allowed a major global investment bank, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., to file for bankruptcy. Within days, the shock waves crippled the nation’s largest insurer, triggered a run on money-market funds, and accelerated a cash crunch that would ultimately destroy millions of jobs. Only by pledging trillions of dollars to prop up the financial system, and spending hundreds of billions more on fiscal stimulus, did the government manage to prevent the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression from becoming the worst ever.