A brighter day — but we’re still close to the edge of panic
Fifteen years down the track most of us remember the events of the global financial crisis as a frenzy of collapsing share prices, household name banks teetering on the brink of the abyss, and world leaders cobbling together vast emergency bailouts.
In truth it was a far slower burn than that, although the tumultuous climax did indeed play out at very high speed.
Events seem compressed in hindsight, but it was a full year between the first major drama of the whole saga in the UK — the notorious run on Northern Rock in September 2007 — and the denouement, when Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling were forced to partially nationalise Lloyds, Halifax and Royal Bank of Scotland, which included NatWest, to prevent Britain’s entire financial sector collapsing in October 2008.
Over the course of that year there were days of hope and days of despair.
In the present unfolding events, today is shaping up to be one of hope to match the cheering spring weather, with shares rising after the takeover of Silicon Valley Bank.
But as the dumping of Deutsche Bank stock on Friday shows us, in the current market we are never more than a day away from a fresh bout of panic as new weaknesses in the system are exposed one by one.
If the 2008 crash teaches us anything it must be that early and decisive global co-operation and intervention is a better call than a slow but accelerating drift towards the edge of the cascade over the clifftop, with frantic paddling merely delaying the inevitable.