Timeline: Global credit crunch


A year ago, few people had heard of the term credit crunch, but the phrase has now entered dictionaries.

Defined as "a severe shortage of money or credit", the start of the phenomenon has been pinpointed as 9 August 2007 when bad news from French bank BNP Paribas triggered sharp rise in the cost of credit, and made the financial world realise how serious the situation was.

The problems, however, started much earlier.


After a two year period between 2004 and 2006 when US interest rates rose from 1% to 5.35%, the US housing market begins to suffer, with prices falling and a rise in homeowners defaulting on their mortgages.

Default rates on sub-prime loans - high risk loans to clients with poor or no credit histories - rise to record levels.




Wall Street
The credit losses associated with sub-prime have come to light and they are fairly significant...Some estimates are in the order of between $50bn and $100bn of losses

Ben Bernanke, Chairman US Federal Reserve, speaking on 20 July 2007

New Century Financial, which specialises in sub-prime mortgages, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and cuts half of its workforce.

As it sold on many of its debts to other banks, the collapse in the sub-prime market begins to have an impact at banks around the world.


Investment bank Bear Stearns tells investors they will get little, if any, of the money invested in two of its hedge funds after rival banks refuse to help it bail them out.

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke follows the news with a warning that the US sub-prime crisis could cost up to $100bn (£50bn).



9 August 2007

BNP Paribas sign
BNP's statement is scary, to put it mildly

BBC Business Editor, Robert Peston

Investment bank BNP Paribas tells investors they will not be able to take money out of two of its funds because it cannot value the assets in them, owing to a "complete evaporation of liquidity" in the market.

It is the clearest sign yet that banks are refusing to do business with each other.

The European Central Bank pumps 95bn euros (£63bn) into the banking market to try to improve liquidity. It adds a further 108.7bn euros over the next few days.

The US Federal Reserve, the Bank of Canada and the Bank of Japan also begin to intervene.

17 August

The Fed cuts the rate at which it lends to banks by half of a percentage point to 5.75%, warning the credit crunch could be a risk to economic growth.

21 August

UK sub-prime lenders begin to withdraw mortgages or put up the cost of borrowing for UK homeowners with poor credit histories.

28 August

German regional bank Sachsen Landesbank faces collapse after investing in the sub-prime market; it is sold to larger rival Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg.



3 September

German corporate lender IKB announces a $1bn loss on investments linked to the US sub-prime market.

4 September

The rate at which banks lend to each other rises to its highest level since December 1998.

The so-called Libor rate is 6.7975%, way above the Bank of England's 5.75% base rate;banks either worry whether other banks will survive, or urgently need the money themselves.

13 September

Northern Rock branch
The fact that it has had to go cap in hand to the Bank is the most tangible sign that the crisis in financial markets is spilling over into businesses that touch most of our lives

Robert Peston, BBC business editor

The BBC reveals Northern Rock has asked for and been granted emergency financial support from the Bank of England,in the latter's role as lender of last resort.

Northern Rock relied heavily on the markets, rather than savers' deposits, to fund its mortgage lending. The onset of the credit crunch has dried up its funding.

A day later depositors withdraw £1bn in what is the biggest run on a British bank for more than a century. They continue to take out their money until the government steps in to guarantee their savings.

18 September

The US Federal Reserve cuts its main interest rate by half a percentage point to 4.75%.

19 September

After previously refusing to inject any funding into the markets, the Bank of England announces that it will auction £10bn.



1 October

Swiss bank UBS is the world's first top-flight bank to announce losses - $3.4bn - from sub-prime related investments.

The chairman and chief executive of the bank step down. Later, banking giant Citigroup unveils a sub-prime related loss of $3.1bn. A fortnight on Citigroup is forced to write down a further $5.9bn. Within six months, its stated losses amount to $40bn.

30 October

Merrill Lynch's chief resigns after the investment bank unveils a $7.9bn exposure to bad debt.



29 November

The Bank of England reveals the number of mortgage approvals has fallen to a near three-year low.

30 November

The Council for Mortgage Lenders (CML) issues the starkest warning yet of the impact of the credit crunch on the mortgage market,saying that without more funding available on financial markets, mortgage lenders will not be able to offer as many mortgages.



6 December

US President George W Bush outlines plans to help more than a million homeowners facing foreclosure.

The Bank of England cuts interest rates by a quarter of one percentage point to 5.5%.

13 December

The US Federal Reserve co-ordinates an unprecedented action by five leading central banks around the world to offer billions of dollars in loans to banks.

The Bank of England calls it an attempt to "forestall any prospective sharp tightening of credit conditions". The move succeeds in temporarily lowering the rate at which banks lend to each other.

17 December

The central banks continue to make more funding available.

There is a $20bn auction from the US Federal Reserve and, the following day, $500bn from the European Central Bank to help commercial banks over the Christmas period.



19 December

Ratings agency Standard and Poor's downgrades its investment rating of a number of so-called monoline insurers, which specialise in insuring bonds. They guarantee to repay the loans if the issuer goes bust.

There is concern that insurers will not be able to pay out, forcing banks to announce another big round of losses.

9 January 2008

The World Bank predicts that global economic growth will slow in 2008, as the credit crunch hits the richest nations.

18 January

A rush to withdraw money from its commercial property funds forces Scottish Equitable to introduce delays of up to 12 months for investors wanting to take their money out.

It blames the rush of withdrawals on concerns about the US sub-prime mortgage collapse, recession worries and interest rates.

21 January

Global stock markets, including London's FTSE 100 index, suffer their biggest falls since 11 September 2001.

22 January

The US Fed cuts rates by three quarters of a percentage point to 3.5% - its biggest cut in 25 years - to try and prevent the economy from slumping into recession.

It is the first emergency cut in rates since 2001. Stock markets around the world recover the previous day's heavy losses.

31 January

A major bond insurer MBIA, announces a loss of $2.3bn - its biggest to date for a three-month period -blaming its exposure to the US sub-prime mortgage crisis.



7 February

US Federal Reserve boss Ben Bernanke adds his voice to concerns about monoline insurers, saying he is closely monitoring developments "given the adverse effects that problems of financial guarantors can have on financial markets and the economy".

The Bank of England cuts interest rates by a quarter of one percent to 5.25%.

8 February

Stockmarket board
Some investors forgot the golden rule of financing: 'Don't buy things that you don't understand'

FSA chief executive Hector Sants, speaking on 27 February

In the UK, the latest CML figures show the number of homes repossessed in the UK rose to 27,100 in 2007, its highest level since 1999.

10 February

Leaders from the G7 group of industrialised nations say worldwide losses stemming from the collapse of the US sub-prime mortgage market could reach $400bn.

17 February

After considering a number of private sector rescue proposals, including from Richard Branson's Virgin Group, the government announces that struggling Northern Rock is to be nationalised for a temporary period.

7 March

In its biggest intervention yet, the Federal Reserve makes $200bn of funds available to banks and other institutions to try to improve liquidity in the markets.

17 March

Wall Street's fifth-largest bank, Bear Stearns, is acquired by larger rival JP Morgan Chase for $240m in a deal backed by $30bn of central bank loans.

A year earlier, Bear Stearns had been worth £18bn.

28 March

Nationwide predicts UK house prices will fall by the end of the year, revising its previous forecast of no change in prices.



2 April

Moneyfacts, which monitors financial products, says 20% of mortgage products have been withdrawn from the UK market in the previous seven days.

For sale boards
I have a deep sense of shock at how deeply our successful industry has already been hit by these unprecedented funding market conditions

Steven Crawshaw, chairman of the Council for Mortgage Lenders, speaking on 11 April 2008

Five days later the 100% mortgage disappears when Abbey withdraws the last home loan available without a deposit.

8 April

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which oversees the global economy, warns that potential losses from the credit crunch could reach $1 trillion and may be even higher.

It says the effects are spreading from sub-prime mortgage assets to other sectors, such as commercial property, consumer credit, and company debt.

10 April

The Bank of England cuts interest rates by a quarter of one percent to 5%.

11 April

A warning is issued by the CML that the amount of funding available for mortgages in the UK could be cut in half this year.

It calls on the Bank of England to kick-start the money markets and ease the effects of the credit crunch.

A bank owned US home
The effects of the credit crunch are likely to be broader, deeper and more protracted than previously expected

IMF global stability report, 8 April 2008

15 April

Confidence in the UK housing market falls to its lowest point in 30 years in March, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, because of the "unique liquidity blight".

But it does add that the situation is good news for buyers with large deposits who can buy property that was previously out of reach.

21 April

The Bank of England announces details of an ambitious £50bn plan designed to help credit-squeezed banks by allowing them to swap potentially risky mortgage debts for secure government bonds.



22 April

Royal Bank of Scotland announces a plan to raise money from its shareholders with a £12bn rights issue - the biggest in UK corporate history.

The firm also announces a write-down of £5.9bn on the value of its investments between April and June - the largest write-off yet for a British bank.

25 April

Persimmon becomes the first UK house builder to announce major cutbacks, citing the lack of affordable mortgages and a fall in consumer confidence.

It adds sales have fallen by a quarter since the beginning of the year.

New homes
Because of the uncertainties in the global economy and the UK lending environment, it is difficult to predict when the [housing] market will improve

House builder Persimmon

29 April

The CML says the number of new mortgages approved in March slipped 44% to 64, the lowest monthly number since records began in 1999.

30 April

The first annual fall in house prices for 12 years is recorded by Nationwide.

Prices were 1% lower in April compared to a year earlier after a "steep decline" in home buying over the previous six months.

Later in the week, figures from the UK's biggest lender Halifax, show a 0.9% annual fall for April.

2 May

More than 850 companies went into administration between January and March, government figures show, a rise of 54% on the previous year. Retail and construction firms are hardest hit.

22 May

Swiss bank UBS, one of the worst affected by the credit crunch, launches a $15.5bn rights issueto cover some of the $37bn it lost on assets linked to US mortgage debt.

19 June

There are significant developments in two major credit crunch-related investigations in the US, which it is hoped will restore confidence in the credit markets.

The FBI arrests 406 people, including brokers and housing developers, as part of a crackdown on alleged mortgage frauds worth $1bn.

Separately, two former Bear Stearns workers face criminal charges related to the collapse of two hedge funds linked to sub-prime mortgages.

It is alleged they knew of the funds' problems but did not disclose them to investors, who lost a total of $1.4bn.

25 June

Barclays announces plans to raise £4.5bn in a share issue to bolster its balance sheet.

The Qatar Investment Authority, the state-owned investment arm of the Gulf state, will invest £1.7bn in the British bank, giving it a 7.7% share in the business. A number of other foreign investors increase their existing holdings.



8 July

The gloomy findings of a survey of its members prompt the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) to suggest that the UK is facing a serious risk of recession within months.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 100 stock index briefly dips into a "bear market", in which the market suffers a 20% fall from its recent highs.

The outlook is grim and we believe that the correction period is likely to be longer and nastier than expected

British Chambers of Commerce, 18 July 2008

13 July

US mortgage lender IndyMac collapses - the second-biggest bank in US history to fail.

14 July

Financial authorities step in to assist America's two largest lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As owners or guarantors of $5 trillion worth of home loans, they are crucial to the US housing market and authorities agree they could not be allowed to fail.

The previous week, there had been a panic amongst investors that they might collapse, causing their share prices to plummet.

21 July

Just 8% of HBOS investors agree to take up the new shares offered in its £4bn rights issue, because they are priced higher than existing shares are trading on the stock market.

But HBOS still gets the £4bn it wanted, as the unsold new shares are bought by the issue's underwriters.

31 July

UK house prices show their biggest annual fall since the Nationwide began its housing survey in 1991, a decline of 8.1%.

The average home now costs £169,316. That is nearly £15,000 cheaper than in the same month last year.

Meanwhile, HBOS reveals that profits for the first half of the year sank 72% to £848m, while bad debts rose 36% to £1.31bn as customers failed to repay loans.



4 August

Global banking giant HSBC warned that conditions in financial markets are at their toughest "for several decades" after suffering a 28% fall in half-year profits.

Of Europe's top banks, HSBC has among the heaviest exposure to the troubled US housing and credit markets.

22 August

The bad news continues with revised figures from the ONS revealing that the UK economy is a standstill.

28 August

Nationwide reveals that UK house prices have fallen by 10.5% in a year.

A day later Bradford and Bingley posts losses of £26.7m for the first half of 2008, blaming surging mortgage arrears for a rise in impairment.

Looking ahead, it warned it expected arrears to remain at high levels for the rest of the year.

30 August

Chancellor Alistair Darling warns that the economy is facing its worst crisis for 60 yearsin an interview with the Guardian newspaper, saying the current downturn would be more "profound and long-lasting" than most had feared.

1 September

Official figures from the Bank of England show a slump in approved mortgages for July.

Meanwhile, while the pound falls to record lows of 81.21 pence against the euroand two-year lows of $1.80.

2 September

In an effort to kick-start the UK housing market the Treasury announces a one year rise in stamp duty exemption,from £125,000 to £175,000.

But there is more bad news, as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development forecasts that the UK will be in a full blown recession by the end of the next two quarters. A day later the European central bank cuts growth forecast 2009 to 1.2% from 1.5%.

4 September

The Bank of England leaves rates on hold at 5% while the latest figures from the Halifax show that house prices in England and Wales continue to fall.

5 September

A raft of negative news from around the world sees the FTSE notch up its steepest weekly decline since July 2002.

The US labour market figures - which showed the unemployment rate rising to 6.1% - were a further jolt to investors who have had to swallow a slew of poor economic data in recent days.

6 September

The Halifax warns that the impact of the credit crunch will be felt well into 2010.Chief executive Andy Hornby explains that British banks will continue to suffer major problems in offering loans until they can raise significant sums on wholesale markets, something that will not be possible until US house prices recover.

7 September

Mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - which account for nearly half of the outstanding mortgages in the US - are rescued by the US government in one of the largest bailouts in US history.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says the two firms' debt levels posed a "systemic risk" to financial stability and that, without action, the situation would get worse.

At the same time, in the UK, the Nationwide announces it will merge with two smaller rivals, the Derbyshire and Cheshire Building Societies.

9 September

More bad news emerges for the UK economy as the ONS reveals manufacturing output fell by 0.2% between June and July, raising a real fear of recession.

Meanwhile, the British Retail Consortium reports UK retail sales values fell by 1.0% on a like-for-like basis from August 2007.

On the housing front, there were more negative headlines with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors published figures showing house sales were at their lowest level for 30 years,while the CML reported that the number of first-time buyers has hit its lowest level since its survey began in January 2002.

10 September

Wall Street bank Lehman Brothers posts a loss of $3.9bn for the three months to August.

The announcement comes against a background of further dire economic warnings from the European Commission, which warned that the UK, Germany and Spain will go into recession by the end of the year.

15 September

After days of searching frantically for a buyer, Lehman Brothers files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, becoming the first major bank to collapse since the start of the credit crisis.

Former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan dubs failure as "probably a once in a century type of event" and warns that other major firms will also go bust.

Meanwhile fellow US bank Merrill Lynch, also stung by the credit crunch, agreed to be taken over by Bank of Americafor $50bn, the latest twist in a dramatic turn of events on Wall Street.

16 September

The US Federal Reserve announces an $85bn rescue package for AIG, the country's biggest insurance company,to save it from bankruptcy. AIG gets the loan in return for an 80% public stake in the firm.

17 September

Britain's biggest mortgage lender HBOS is taken over by Lloyds TSB in a £12bn deal creating a banking giant holding close to one-third of the UK's savings and mortgage market. The deal follows a run on HBOS shares.

25 September

In the largest bank failure yet in the United States, Washington Mutual, the giant mortgage lender which had assets valued at $307bn isclosed down by regulators and sold to its JPMorgan Chase.

Analysts say much of its problems have been caused by the group's 2006 purchase of mortgage lender Golden West for $25bn at the height of the then US housing boom.

28 September

The credit crunch hits Europe's banking sector as the European banking and insurance giant Fortis is partly nationalised to ensure its survival.It is seen as too big a European bank to be allowed to go under.

Authorities in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg agree to pour in 11.2bn euros ($16.1bn; £8.9bn). Fortis' share price has fallen sharply amid concerns about its debts.

In the US lawmakers announce they have reached a bipartisan agreement on a rescue plan for the American financial system.

The package, to be approved by Congress, allows the Treasury to spend up to $700bn buying bad debts from ailing banks.

It will be the biggest intervention in the markets since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

29 September

In Britain the mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley is nationalised. The British government takes control of the bank's £50bn mortgages and loans, while its savings operations and branches are sold to Spain's Santander.

The Icelandic government takes control of the country's third-largest bank Glitnir after the company had faced short-term funding problems.

Wachovia, the fourth-largest US bank, is bought by its larger rival Citigroup in a rescue deal backed by the US authorities. Under the deal, Citigroup will absorb up to $42bn of Wachovia losses.

The US House of Representatives rejects a $700bn rescue plan for the US financial system - sending shockwaves around the world.

It opens up new uncertainties about how banks will deal with their exposure to toxic loans and how credit markets can begin to operate more normally. Wall Street shares plunge, with the Dow Jones index slumping 7% or 770 points, a record one-day point fall.

30 September

Dexia becomes the latest European bank to be bailed out as the deepening credit crisis continues to shake the banking sector.

After all-night talks the Belgian, French and Luxembourg governments said they would put in 6.4bn euros ($9bn; £5bn) to keep it afloat.

Separately, the Irish government says it will guarantee all deposits in the country's main banks for two years .

In the UK, Prime Minister Gordon Brown says the government is planning to raise the limit on guaranteed bank deposits from £35,000 to £50,000.

1 October

Stock markets stabilise ahead of a vote in the Senate, which eventually approves an amended $700bn financial rescue bill.

Market confidence that Lloyds TSB's takeover of HBOS will not be derailed by stock market volatility sees HBOS shares rise 20%.

A report says that French Finance Finister Christine Lagarde calls for an emergency EU bail-out fund for banks threatened with failure.

The EU says it is looking at whether Ireland's full guarantee of saving deposits is anti-competitive.

3 October

The US House of Representatives passes a $700bn (£394bn) government plan to rescue the US financial sector.

The 263-171 vote was the second in a week, following its shock rejection of an earlier version on Monday.

The UK's City watchdog, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) raises the limit of the amount of deposits that are guaranteed should a bank go bust to £50,000.

6 October

Germany announces a 50bn euro ($68bn; £38.7bn) plan to save one of the country's biggest banks

The deal to save Hypo Real Estate, reached with private banks, is worth 15bn euros more than the first rescue attempt, which fell apart a day earlier.

World stock markets react badly to the ongoing turmoil.

The German government says it will not pass new legislation to provide extra protection for savers.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's had earlier said that no German savers would lose any money. But it emerges that this was a was a political pledge, rather than one which would see it change laws on banking deposits.

However Denmark had already responded by giving a 100% guarantee on savings, while Sweden increased its protection levels.

Iceland announces part of a plan to hammer out a financial package to shore up its troubled banking sector. The country's largest banks agree to sell off some of their foreign assets and bring them home.