smart spending

10 years that shook America's finances

Year 2001Year 2002Year 2003Year 2004Year 2005Year 2006Year 2007Year 2008Year 2009Year 2010

Year 2009: Unemployment spikes, stimulus approved

  • Newly elected President Barack Obama signs the massive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Feb. 13. It commits $787 billion to tax cuts, infrastructure projects, job training programs and aid to families.
  • On March 9, the Dow Jones Industrial Average sinks to 6,547, less than half the all-time high set in October 2007 and the lowest close since April 15, 1997. On this day, many former blue chip stocks, especially in the embattled financial sector, are trading at or near multiyear lows. Giant Citigroup hits an intraday low of 99 cents.
  • In February, the Treasury Department begins a series of "stress tests" to determine which banks are healthy enough to survive further deterioration of the global economy. It finds big banks must raise an additional $74.6 billion to remain solvent should the economy slide further.
  • After four straight quarters of declining GDP, the U.S. economy begins to grow again in the third quarter 2009 at an annualized rate of 1.6 percent. Later, the National Bureau of Economic Research's Business Cycle Dating Committee, the group of economists tasked with following recessions, pegs June as the official end of the recession.
  • Unemployment peaks at 10.1 percent in October, the highest level since June 1983.
  • In May, the Credit Credit CARD Act passes. The measure contains consumer protections, including restrictions on interest rate hikes and double-cycle billing of credit cards. Many credit card providers respond by raising rates and fees dramatically before the law takes effect.

-- Claes Bell

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