2008 Financial Crisis
The financial crisis commenced in August 2007 after the preceding inflation. The crisis became more defined throughout 2007 and gained momentum in 2008. This took place even after the financial regulators and the central banks’ tireless attempts to tame the situation. It is alleged that the main factors that influenced its manifestation include corruption, fraud, speculation, greed, bankers and bankers’ bonuses. However, the academic discourse, politics or media has been unable to solve the mystery surrounding the main causes of the crisis. The mystery is academically relevant to the world of research just like the Great Depression, whose causes are still being discussed. Other sources believe that the crisis might have been as a cause of human failures especially following the refusal to bail out the Investment Bank Lehman Brothers. The housing bubble was the immediate trigger of the 2008 financial crisis. The following were the triggers under the housing bubble.
A subprime mortgage is the mortgage that is readily acceptable without imposing strict measures of standard on it. Before the 2008 financial crisis, there existed a fierce competition between mortgage lenders. The competition between the mortgage lenders ensued from the struggle for market share and revenue. It also took place in tandem with limited supply of creditworthy borrowers which put unconditional stress on the financial institutions. The relaxing mood by the mortgage was apparent and hence less creditworthy borrowers were granted mortgages. This was a financial err due to failure to adhere to high standards of lending and hence riskier mortgages were granted to the borrowers. This was also evident in early 2003 where the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE), due to their conservative nature, sustained relatively high underwriting standards. The Government Sponsored Enterprises also policed mortgage originators prior to 2003 while maintaining high underwriting standards at the same time. Consequently, the market power shifted originators straight from the securitizers and hence led to tight competition between Government Sponsored Enterprises and the private securitizers. This competition undermined the power of Government Sponsored Enterprises and therefore compromised the mortgage standards. The situation also led to proliferation of risky loans.
During the years preceding the 2008 financial crisis, there was a competitive pressure that ultimately accelerated the subprime lending by the investment banks in the United States and Government Sponsored Enterprises such as Fannie Mae. The Fannie Mae became the biggest lender while the GSE relaxed their quest for the purpose of catching up with the private banks in the United States. Summarizing the subprime lending, there were low bank interest rates, existence of abundant credit and hiking prices of houses. Due to these, there was relaxation of the lending standards and hence the increase in the number of loan borrowers. Through the scheme, the borrowers were able to borrow loans to buy very expensive houses that they could not afford initially. Later on, the house prices started to decline, the loans went sour and hence the cause of shock to the financial system and the global economy. This happened prior to 2008 and hence it can be declared as the major instigator of the 2008 financial crisis
Growth of the Housing Bubble
Identification of a bubble is complicated before it bursts. It is counter intuitive to state that early detection of the housing bubble and its immediate eradication is the best mitigation practice. However, mitigation of housing bubble is the worst thing to do because it can damage the economy. It is advisable to wait for the housing bubble to burst and then respond to its effects.
The housing bubble, as far as the 2008 financial crisis is concerned, led to 124 per cent increase in the price of typical American houses. The bubble took place between 1997 and 2006-approximately one decade. The bubble had drastic consequences on the economy and especially to the home owners in the United States of America prior to the 2008 crisis. The homeowners started to finance their mortgages at very low interest rates and hence denying the financial banks room for development. Other homeowners picked on securing secondary mortgage loans due to appreciation of prices.
The housing bubble started to collapse in early 2006. Several factors led to the bursting of the housing bubble. There was decline or stagnation of the hourly wages in the United States of America between 2002 and 2009 and hence house prices could not continue rising. This is because the houses had become completely unaffordable. The second cause of bubble bursting was as a result of increased supply of houses due to the high market demand. Consequently, the supply of houses superseded the demand in the market. This case reduced monopoly by the housing providers and later increased the desired healthy competition in the housing industry. As a result, the house prices began to decline due to the high supply and less demand. The above causes were also related to the subprime lending-another cause of the 2008 financial crisis.
Increased Debt Burden or Over-Leveraging
Before the 2008 financial crisis, there was an increased leveraging of financial institutions. The institutions were very optimistic and hence they did not mind engaging in risky investments. They also set up smart measures that would cushion them from the unexpected consequences. The leverage entailed the use of complicated financial tools such as derivatives and off balance sheet securitization. This was risky because it denied the financial monitors and crediting institutions the capability to curb the impending risks. It became harder to reduce the risk levels due to the vulnerability exposure by the financial institutions and their subsequent moderations. Consequently, the measures could not curb the stress on the financial institutions and hence exacerbating bankruptcy of several commercial banks and other lending institutions.
There was evidence of over-leveraging by the financial institutions in the United States during this prime period. The financial institutions became highly indebted just before the 2008 financial crisis set in. The institutions were hence vulnerable to the failure of the housing bubble. The economic tantrums became worse in precedence to the crisis. At this time, the U.S household debt hit 127 percent in 2007, up from 77 percent in 1990. Allegedly, the debt led to economic recession that in turn led to the fall in employment rates and increased credit losses by the involved financial institutions. Other effects were also felt prior to the crisis as far as the household and the financial institutions finances are concerned. After the spread of the balance sheet leveraging across the economy, consumers started to save on the purchase of durable goods, businesses started to lay off workers, planned investments were cancelled and the financial institutions started to freeze their assets to improve their financial stability while bolstering capital.
Following the collapse of housing bubble in early 2007, prices of essential commodities increased. The increase in commodity prices was one of the very many consequences of the housing bubble burst. The housing bubble, according to economists, was very stressful to the household economy and the banking institutions at large. Consumption of certain commodities was either regulated or cut off to increase on savings and carter for the other basic needs. To prove this, it is on record that the price of oil was approximately three times the initial price. The price tripled to US $147 from a mere US $50 between 2007 and 2008. There was speculation that money was flowing from the household finances into commodities. The financial institutions were also blamed for the increased commodity prices. There existed an acute shortage of raw materials and hence increasing the cost of production. This scenario subsequently raised the prices of essential commodities. The raw material crisis was somehow contributed by the Chinese dominance in Africa and the other potential states in the world.
The soaring prices of oil directly affect the arithmetic involved in consumer spending. Most often, production cost is transferred to the consumers who are required to spend more on gasoline and gas than on the other essential commodities. During the 2008 financial crisis, house bubble was part and parcel of all these occurrences and hence its exacerbation as a result. The pending issues were not solved in accordance with the economic situation due to the surging oil prices. The oil producing countries were the main beneficiaries of this scheme as they ended up accumulating most of the wealth. Apparently, the oil importing countries had to spend more in purchasing the oil and hence the cost of commodity production in the respective states increased. The consumers were the main sufferers because they had to redirect finances from other avenues to settle the commodity bills. Copper and Nickel prices also went high prior to the crisis. Without any doubt, it is evident that the effects of the price instabilities and price variations contributed to the financial crisis.
Role of Economic Forecasting
Economists are the principle advisors whenever economic issues such as depression, recession and stability are concerned. They are required to analyze the past financial crisis and should be responsible for forecasting any impending economic crisis. They are also required to advice the ordinary people, stakeholders and financial institutions on economic trends, future crises and the mitigation measures of mitigating them. An unfortunate occurrence took place prior to the eruption of the 2008 financial crisis. The crisis was not predicted by the mainstream economists in the United States. However, it is rife that several heterodox economics had a feeling of the occurrence of the crisis but there was an argument of misunderstanding between them. They had varying arguments on the estimating of the appropriate time of the crisis. Only 12 of the economists managed to predict the crisis. They included Eric Janszen of the US, Dean Baker of the US, Fred Harrison of the UK, Wynne Godley of the UK, Kurt Richebacher of the US, Peter Schiff of the US, Nouriesl Roubini of the US, Steven Keen of Australia and Denmark’s Jens Kjaer Sorensen.
Schools and other economic institutions also predicted the crisis. The schools based their predictions on observing the effects of artificial and laxity in the supply of money. It was also stated that the economists were unable to predict the crisis since the 1930’s global Great Depression. There were several articles including the New York Times and other university journals that had a revelation of the occurrence of the 2008 global financial crisis. However, from the economic school of thoughts’ perspective point of view, it is stated that predicting financial crises is a nearly impossible task.
Impacts on Financial Markets
The 2008 financial crisis impacted negatively on financial markets. Since the financial markets greatly affect the economy, various stakes were upheld and hence the stress on the economy. The impact was evident on the U.S stock market and the other financial institutions.
U.S Stock Market
In October 2007, the stock market in the United States peaked after exceeding the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index with 14, 000 points. In early 2008, the stock market started experiencing a steady decline until it reached approximately 6, 000 points by March 2009. The statistics started to flourish again between March 2009 and early 2011 when it exceeded 12, 000 points. The points were recorded above 13, 000 points by 2012. This was a positive improvement based on the comparison between the performances of the stock market during 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. The steady increase was quite beneficial to the economy of the United States at a time when it was experiencing the most drastic effects of an economic downtown.
Partially, the quantitative easing technique that was applied by the Federal Reserve’s economic policy of aggression was behind the success of recovery of the United States stock market. The recovery of the United States stock market back to its functional status was a welcome effect that was essential to curb the effects of the financial crisis and mitigate the future occurrences of the same caliber. The positive performance in the stock market was also attributed to various factors concerning the efforts steered by the financial community to save the economy from succumbing to the financial crisis. The poor performance by the United States’ stock market was also experienced during the Great Depression.
Financial institutions are a conglomerate of bankers and providers of banking services. Lending firms and institutions are also part and parcel of the financial institutions. There was an estimated amount of money by the International Monetary fund alleged to have been lost by the U.S banks and European banks. The estimated amount of the lost money was $ 1 trillion. The money was lost through poor techniques of loan allocations between the time period of 2007 and September 2009. Approximately 60 percent of American banks were affected while 40 percent of the banks in Europe were affected.
Northern Rock bank of Britain was one of the worst-hit banks in the European region. The bank engaged in over leveraging matters of business that later forced it to seek security and protection from the Bank of England. This led to bank-run and instilled panic among the investors in September 2007. The bank’s management was then put under the receivership of the public by the British government after failing to secure the interests of willing private investors to take control of the bank. The Northern Rock’s scenario was just an indication of the very many problems that the other financial institutions were facing. The mortgage lending firms were the most affected since most of them became bankrupt. They were unable to secure their loans and financial benefits from credit markets. Almost all financial institutions predicted danger in terms of downfall and bankruptcy. The consequences included complete failure of the institutions to survive, subjection to takeover by the government or fire-sale in terms of duress acquisition by the willing investors. Most of the U.S and European banks were completely eliminated from the financial map.
Effects on the Global Economy
Global economy is supposed to be sustained at all costs. It is responsible for diversification of the resources and economic empowerment of the countries that operate under one umbrella. When one country is hit by an economic crisis, the other countries that engage in economic activities with the affected country are likely to experience an economic shakeup. Financial crisis is just like any other crisis but its effects are the most tragic because they impair economic growth. Economic stability is beneficial to a country while its instability has negative impacts on both the country and the citizens within its borders. Matters of economic interest are given the first priority when it comes to security and protecting citizens from economic depressions and its aftermaths such as high production costs, high interests on the borrowed funds and the subsequent increase in commodity prices. Apparently, the 2008 financial crisis affected several states both directly and indirectly.
Analysis of the commentators’ suggestion is welcome for argumentation. The commentators, with too much experience in the world economic trends commented on the impending effects of liquidity on the global economy. However, if the liquidity crisis persists, recession is likely to continue manifesting. With no mitigation measures urgently put in place to curb the liquidity crisis, it is likely that even more drastic effects of the recession will be experienced. Continued persistence of the financial crisis is predicted to affect the global economy which in turn can cause a collapse of the economy if not mitigated as soon as possible. This is an argument from a group of certain forecasters. Contrary to this argument, there also exists another group of optimistic forecasters who believe that financial crisis is not likely to affect the global economy.
School of thoughts has it that the financial crisis is likely to cause a major shakeup in the banking industry due to the melt-down of loans and savings. In mid-October 2008, the Investments Banks in the United States and the United Kingdom declared that continued financial crisis was a clear-cut indication of an impending global recession. They even had the audacity to estimate the time it would take for the global recession to start manifesting itself. They estimated the minimum period before the global recession could start shaking the economy as two years or less. Later on, the economists predicted that the crisis would end soon and that it was now the beginning of its end. This was evidenced by the efforts made by financial stakeholders in the world. This action was supposed to mitigate the financial situation immediately. Subsequently, the government injected reasonable capital into the economy that facilitated the cut-down of interest rates. This was one of the initial steps meant to enhance the well-being of the interested borrowers or the borrowers who were still repaying their loans. This meant that mortgages were now more affordable or better off. Their repayment was made cheaper as compared to the previous times when they were very high.
The United Kingdom was clever enough to mitigate the effects of the financial crisis by injecting the mentioned capital into its economy. The central banks across the globe were forced to cut-down the bank interests imposed on borrowers. This sufficiently helped to revive the deteriorating economy by attracting large numbers of borrowers. The United States was also required to systematically inject capital into its economy. This was not meant to completely mitigate the crisis because the worst was expected. It was only meant to deal with the financial crisis at that time but not the main solution to the crisis and the presumably impending economic crisis such as the global economic recession.
The UBS had already estimated the presumed duration of the expected recession in various economic power houses in the world. Recession in the Euro zone was to last for an approximated period of six months, the United States was to experience it for three quarters while the United Kingdom was to face a recession that would last for four quarters. Iceland is an example of some of the commonest countries on earth to be directly affected by the financial crisis. There was a major banking collapse in Iceland. It is still rated as the world’s major banking collapse in the history of economy.
The other countries in the world were also affected by the crisis because the Unites States was by then, the biggest shareholder in the world economy. Its spending habits were very beneficial to the world and hence it is intuitive to state that the rest of the world depended greatly on its success. The negative effects on the global economy were first observed in 2009 when Japan experienced a 15% decline in its GDP, 14% in Germany, 21% in Mexico, and 7% in the UK. The other developing countries also suffered significant slowdowns in their economic trends. However, the Arab World was least affected by the financial crisis because there were different sources of finances.
The government of the United States was supposed to establish the most appropriate mitigation measures and thereafter implement them for the purpose of streamlining the economy and its subsequent cushioning from any future crisis. There were various measures that were lined up by the government to gain both temporary and permanent stability of the economy. The two main responses included the short-term and emergency responses and long-term responses and regulatory proposals.
The Short-Term and Emergency Responses
The central banks across the world and the US government under the jurisdiction of the Federal Reserve have put the most appropriate measures in place to facilitate money supply and prevent occurrence of deflationary spiral. Deflationary spiral is the situation where high employment rates and lower wages cause low global consumption trends. The governments are also spending and borrowing funds from outside sources to increase demand by the private sector. The Federal Reserve in the United States dealt with the emergency by expanding liquidity facilities to enable the central bank to carry on with its duty of lending money. In mid-2008, the Central Banks and the Federal Reserves responded promptly to the crisis by settling government debts and buying private assets from the hard-hit banks. The European governments and the United States raised their national banking systems’ capital by approximately U.S$ 1.5 trillion. They purchased stocks from the major banks to set-off the liquidity saga. To curb further liquidity, the U.S government decided to create currency valued at approximately 600 Billion dollars and injected them into its banks. Brave enough, the banks invested the money in foreign investments and currencies.
Long-Term Responses and Regulatory Proposals
There was a series of regulatory proposals introduced in 2009 by President Barack Obama of the U.S. The contents of the proposal included consumer protection, cushioning of bank finances, and regulation of the systems involved with shadow banking. Another proposal was to limit involvement of banks in proprietary banking. In Europe, the regulators drafted regulations for their banks. The proposals required the banks to amend their liquidity requirements, increase capital ratios and limit leverage. The regulations have since increased lending to the government by the banks and hence increasing the risk of a possible financial crisis. More lending to the government has been encouraged.
Without the long-term, short term responses and regulatory proposals, the crisis could have worsened and even led to a global economic recession. The government of the United States through its Federal Reserves, the government of the United Kingdom and the economic regulators in both countries were pivotal in mitigating the crisis and preventing a repeat of the same in the future. The short term measures were meant to deal with the situation immediately before the most appropriate long-term measures could be approved and implemented. The proposals were also implemented by various central banks across the affected nations in the world. The United States led the other nations such as the United Kingdom in the fight against the financial crisis through the most appropriate short-term and long-term responses. A positive improvement was observed as the economy started to be more stable and sustainable. The proposals were also very significant because they managed to streamline the banking systems which are still effective at the moment. There is optimism that the measures and proposals will continue to be effective for the purpose of decreasing the probability of occurrence of another financial crisis in the future. These measures and proposals are still in place up to now though with subjectivity to legislated amendments.
Response by the Congress of the United States
The United States-being the worst affected by the financial crisis-sort assistance from the law makers and the Congress. Under the leadership of President Barack Obama, the congress and the senate were required to pass the most important financial Bills into law. The Bills were meant to cushion the U.S economy from any impending financial crisis. Stability of the economy was achieved after the implementation of the Bills. At the end of 2009, the House approved a Bill titled Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act 2009. The Act was enacted to protect the consumers against exorbitant prices of consumer goods and services. The interest rates were also shelved for the benefit of borrowers. Another response involved the enactment of Restoring American Financial Stability Act 2010 in mid 2010 by the U.S Senate. Several other Acts were enacted in response to the financial crisis. Meanwhile, in April 2012, a court in Iceland prosecuted a former Prime Minister for instigating the Icelandic Financial Crisis between 2008 and 2012.
Economic stability was the main remedy for the persisting financial crisis which impacted greatly on the global economy. Stabilization was to be achieved through the well-researched mitigation measures. The affected economies were supposed to get back on their feet after nullifying the threat from interfering with their finances. The United States and the United Kingdom were the front runners in ensuring economic stability.
The U.S recession lasted between December 2007 and June 2009. Similarly, the financial recession also ended at the same time. By the beginning of 2010, President Barack Obama declared that the markets were stable and that he had managed to retrieve the money spent on the banks during the crisis. The stability can also be evidenced by the observed growth of most stock markets. However, fundamental changes are yet to be made on financial markets and banking.
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