Lehman Brothers went bust 10 years ago

Can it happen again?

In early 2007, the then chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, dismissed the idea that the slowdown in the US housing market had profound implications. It was, according to the man running the world’s most powerful central bank, just a local affair. Everybody knows what happened next. Within 18 months the local problem in the US subprime mortgage market had ballooned into the biggest global financial crisis since the 1930s. When Lehman Brothers went bankrupt 10 years ago this week, it was the catalyst for a month of turmoil in which no financial institution was considered entirely safe.

Inevitably, the anniversary of those tumultuous weeks in late September and early October 2008 has prompted speculation about whether it could happen again. And, if so, what will be the cause? Looking around the global economy, there are plenty of potential candidates…

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