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Business

Chronology: Anatomy of a Financial Crisis

As world leaders seek answers to the global financial crisis, take a closer look at the key economic events of the year.

Graphic with EU flag, euro bills and graph

It's been a rough year for the finance sector

The crisis in world financial markets has its roots in declining home values in the US real estate market which began in late 2006 and led to a wave of foreclosures and defaults on home loans.

The loans, many to borrowers with poor credit, were bundled into assets that began to way heavily on banks' balance sheets around the world.

Earlier efforts to assist homeowners, and the sale of several major financial institutions did little to stem the flood, and the international crisis rapidly expanded after the fall of financial giant Lehman Brothers in September.

Banks worldwide may be forced to write down a total of $1.4 trillion in assets by the end of the year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Here is a chronology of major events this year:

Jan. 2008: Bank of America acquires Countrywide Financial, the biggest US mortgage lender. US Federal Reserve slashes interest rates twice.

March 2008: On the verge of collapse and under pressure by the Fed, Bear Stearns is forced to accept a buyout by US investment bank JP Morgan Chase. The deal is backed by Fed loans of $30 billion.

In Germany, Deutsche Bank reports a loss of 141 million euros for the first quarter of 2008, its first quarterly loss in five years. Fed spearheads coordinated push by world central banks to bolster global economic confidence by announcing moves to pump $200-billion liquidity into markets.

US frees up another $200 billion to back troubled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

April 2008: G7 ministers agree to new wave of financial regulation to combat protracted financial crisis.

July 2008: California mortgage lender IndyMac collapses. US Treasury, Fed move to guarantee debts of Fannie, Freddie. US Congress gives final passage to multi-billion-dollar program to address mortgage and foreclosure crisis.

Spain's largest property developer, Martinsa-Fadesa, declares insolvency.

Sept. 7: US government seizes control of Fannie, Freddie in $200-billion bail-out.

Sept. 15: Lehman Brothers investment bank declares $600-billion bankruptcy. Merrill Lynch acquired by Bank of America.

Sept. 17: US bails out AIG insurance giant for $85 billion.

Sept. 19: White House requests $700-billion bail-out plan from Congress for all financial firms with bad mortgage securities to free up tightening credit flow.

Sept. 22: Last two standing investment banks, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, convert to bank holding companies.

Sept. 26: Feds seize Washington Mutual in largest-ever US bank failure.

Sept. 29: US House of Representatives rejects mammoth $700-billion bail-out plan.

Governmental bail-outs announced for key banks in Britain, the Benelux and Germany as well as a state takeover of a bank in Iceland.

Oct. 1: US Senate adopts massive bail-out plan, adding sweeteners to get House acceptance.

Oct. 3: Wells Fargo bank and the fourth-largest US bank Wachovia Corp announce merger.

Oct. 3: The largest government intervention in capital markets in US history clears the US House of Representatives, becoming law with signature by President Bush.

Oct. 11: G7 finance ministers gather for talks in Washington, agree to use all available tools to address crisis.

Oct. 15: European Union leaders guarantee inter-bank lending.

Oct. 29: US Federal Reserve slashes interest rates by 0.5 percentage points to 1 percent, the lowest level since June 2004.

Oct. 30: Japan announces 26.9-trillion-yen ($276-billion) stimulus package, including 2 trillion yen in financial assistance for all households to jump-start consumption and up to 6 million yen in tax breaks for housing loans for 10 years.

International Monetary Fund approves a new programme to provide emergency loans to countries facing serious cash shortages.

Nov. 3: Euro zone finance ministers meet, rule out stimulus package.

Nov. 4: Economic woes help propel Democrat Barack Obama to presidency in US elections.

Nov. 6: The European Central Bank and Bank of England announce coordinated rate cut. IMF predicts global recession for 2009.

Nov. 8: G20 finance ministers meeting in Sao Paulo.

Nov. 9: China announces 4-trillion-yuan ($588-billion) economic stimulus package.

Nov. 10: US government invest an additional $40 billion in AIG in exchange for preferred stock in the insurer.

Nov. 15: Leaders of G20 nations to gather in Washington to discuss world financial situation.

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