The Crisis - One Year Later

Anatomy Of A Crisis: Key Data Points Then And Now

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Freddie Mac , Fannie Mae , Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG , Washington Mutual, Wachovia.

CNBC.com

It was the domino theory at work in high finance.

And the smartest guys in the room were defenseless.

No matter how hard people may have prayed, we could not forgive our debts or our debtors.

For all the technology of the system and complexity of the products, the financial crisis of 2008 had more in common with the periodic financial panics of the 19th century than the stock market crash of 1987, the only reference point for most players and analysts.

The crisis moved at warp speed, spread like a brush fire and lingered like flood waters.

No one called it a perfect storm, but in the end it might very well have been just that.

Of course, storms do not come out of nowhere and without warning; we usually see them coming--even this one.

The Crisis: 1 Year Later - A CNBC Special Report - See Complete Coverage

Though the the tumultuous events of September 2008 will be remembered as the tipping point of the financial crisis, its first major eruption was long before that--in the late summer of 2007 with the subprime mortgage meltdown.

Those dog days of August—more than half a year before the 11th-hour rescue of Bear Stearns first shocked the markets—did not make fear a fixture in the market pysche but they marked the end of the boom and the beginning of the end of the bull market.

On August 8, 2007, the Dow Industrialsclosed at 13,657--then a record high. A week later the blue-chip index was down to 12,845.

Soon thereafter, the Fed's FOMC chose not to cut interest rates and thereby began both the second guessing of the government's assessment of the crisis and a wave of dramatic and unusual policy responses to it.

The stock market made one last run, with the Dow peaking at 14,164.53 on Oct. 9; it was virtually all downhill for both the economy and stocks from there.

Much has changed in those two years, which has been a period of widespread extremes. That's more than evident in the following measures, which show the highs and lows, or best and worst, data points along the way.