Ten years ago today, French mega-bank BNP Paribas announced it couldn’t place a value on its US-created collateralized debt obligations, complex toxic “derivative” investments, and thus was suspending client withdrawals from the funds which held them.
That was the first indication that the most gigantic financial panic since the Great Depression in 1929 was about to unfold.
The world has changed a lot since then. But many of the same structural flaws remain, patched and propped but not repaired by governments or by central bank intervention. Vastly greater debt loads are even more of a potential problem than they were in 2007.
The greatest lesson of the 2007 Financial Panic was that central banks transformed the investment markets by intervening. Perhaps they helped, perhaps they hurt, perhaps in a variety of ways they did both. But there’s no denying that the central banks are now involved in our financial markets in ways that would have been unthinkable before August 9, 2007.
Another key lesson of the 2007 Financial Panic was that many sophisticated investors did just fine, thank you, while others got hammered.
Yet another lesson was that we all muddle by. If you stayed invested through the carnage of that awful event, you have probably done well, despite it all.
Read more here.