Great Recession timeline

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In the months leading to September 2008, the government plugged several major leaks in the financial system. But in that month alone, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection, the government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the Federal Reserve injected the American International Group with a major cash infusion to keep it from failing.

Still, the Great Recession of 2008 didn’t just happen in one month. It took years to correct the easy-money policies and lax standards of Wall Street. This timeline gives a blow-by-blow account of how the Great Recession unfolded and how the government and the banking industry responded.

Click on a headline to see more information about the event.


Freddie tightens standards
Dow hits all-time high


Bush signs tax stimulus
Fed bails out Bear Stearns
Countrywide sold to BofA
Fed backstops Fannie, Freddie
Bush signs homeowner aid bill
FHFA takes over GSEs
BofA buys Merrill, Lehman folds
Fed bails out AIG
SEC suspends short selling
Partial sale of Morgan Stanley
Regulators close WaMu
Congress loans Big 3 $25 billion
Wells buys Wachovia
Bush signs TARP into law
Treasury puts $125 billion into banks
PNC buys National City
Treasury buys into AIG
Insurance firms seek TARP help
Fannie, Freddie halt foreclosures
Citigroup bailed out
Fed begins QE1
Official recession declared
Fed cuts key rate to near zero
Bush signs loans for Big 3
GMAC bank bailed out
25 bank failures in 2008


Fed begins buying agency MBS
Chrysler gets Treasury bailout
Obama signs stimulus bill
Obama unveils borrower relief
Fed intros bank stress tests
Fannie reports $58.7 billion loss
AIG gets more bailout cash
Dow hits 12-year low
Freddie reports $50 billion loss
Fed keeps rate zero, buys MBS
US bails out auto suppliers
10 banks fail stress tests
FDIC limits raised to $250K
GM enters managed bankruptcy
140 bank failures in 2009


End of QE1
Dodd-Frank becomes law
Fed announces QE2


End of QE2
CFPB comes online


Fed announces QE3
51 bank failures in 2012


Dow hits new all-time high
Fed tapers economic stimulus

Sources: Federal Reserve, Congressional Budget Office, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Internal Revenue Service, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, Bank of America, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., PNC Bank, Wells Fargo, Consumer Reports, The New York Times, CNN.