Key events that hit financial markets in 2008

u The U.S. Federal Reserve, or central bank, makes the first of several interest rate cuts.
u Crude oil prices go over US$100 per barrel for the first time ever. Gold also rockets.
u Bank of America buys Countrywide, the U.S.'s biggest mortgage lender, which is struggling in a falling market.
u The French bank Societe Generale says that a trader, Jerome Kerviel, lost 4.9 billion euros (US$7.15 billion) through unauthorized trades.
u Germany faces a huge tax evasion scandal after a prosecutor turns up evidence that hundreds of people were hiding assets in Liechtenstein.
u The British government nationalises Northern Rock, a major bank involved in risky property loans.
u Gold tops US$1,000 an ounce.
u Bear Stearns becomes the first big U.S. investment bank to get into trouble due to exposure to subprime, or risky, property loans. It is sold off in a deal engineered by the central bank.
u The giant Swiss bank UBS announces massive losses due to risky investments.
u Rising world food prices cause riots in Egypt and several sub-Saharan African countries.
u High fuel prices cause protests by fisherman and truckers in several European countries.
u The U.S. unemployment rate rises by a half percentage point to 5.5 percent, the biggest leap in two decades.
u Oil prices hit an all-time peak at just over US$147 a barrel.
u World trade talks collapse in Geneva.
u A five-day war between Russia and Georgia brings new concerns for oil prices and the West's energy security.
u The U.S. administration takes over Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, giant institutions which underpin most of the country's property loans.
u Lehman Brothers bank files for bankruptcy.
u On Sept. 15 the U.S. stock market plunges by more than 4.4 percent. Markets also crash around the world.
u The U.S. government steps in to save American International Group, one of the world's biggest insurers. In Britain, Lloyds TSB bank swallows up HBOS, a competitor threatened with bankruptcy.
u Fortis bank is bailed out by Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, while France and Belgium step in to save the Dexia bank.
u The US administration draws up a US$700-billion operation to mop up banks' "toxic" mortgage debt.
u World stock markets crash again on Oct. 10.
u British Prime Minister Gordon Brown proposes concerted action to save the world's banking system.
u Iceland nationalizes its biggest banks amid a massive credit crunch due to borrowing abroad.
u Democrat Barack Obama wins the U.S. presidential election. The United States reports another huge jump in unemployment to 6.5 percent.
u The Chinese government announces a huge economic stimulus plan, which briefly lifts world stock markets.
u The International Monetary Fund warns of a global recession for 2009.
u Details emerge of a worldwide financial pyramid scheme run by a top U.S. financier, Bernard Madoff. Losses are expected to reach US$50 billion.
u European Union leaders draw up a concerted 200-billion euro (US$260-billion) plan to hold off a recession.
u After much hesitation, U.S. President George W. Bush announces help for his country's two biggest auto companies.
u Oil prices fall below US$40 a barrel.
u The Russian ruble drops to a three-year low against the dollar.

Updated : 2021-04-17 16:17 GMT+08:00