Mark Lennihan/AP
The American flag and a sign for Wall St. are shown outside the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, July 15, 2013 in New York.

Timeline on the Great Recession

From Lehman Brothers collapse to the wrenching swings of the stock market – a look back at the major events that marked the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

2006 - July: US home prices peak after decades of financial deregulation and government promotion of home ownership.

2007 - April 2: New Century Financial Corp., a major subprime lender, files for bankruptcy.

Oct. 9: The stock market hits an all-time high, with the Dow at 14,164.

December: The recession officially begins. The unemployment rate stands at 5 percent.

Dec. 12: The Fed creates a Term Auction Facility to lend to ailing financial institutions.

2008 - Jan. 30: The Fed reduces short-term interest rates for the fifth time in four months, to 3 percent. (The rate was 5.25 in September 2007.)

Feb. 13: President George W. Bush signs the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, which gives individuals a tax rebate and encourages business investment.

March 16: Brokerage firm Bear Stearns collapses and is bought out by JPMorgan Chase.

April 30: The Fed reduces short-term interest rates to 2 percent.

Sept. 7: The federal government takes over mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Sept. 15: Lehman Brothers files the largest bankruptcy case in US history.

Sept. 16: The Fed bails out insurance giant AIG.

Oct. 3: Bush signs into law an emergency bailout package that establishes the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Oct. 6-10: The Dow suffers its worst weekly loss in history, falling 1,874 points, or 18 percent.

Oct. 28: The US Treasury gives out the first TARP money, totaling $125 billion, to nine banks.

Oct. 29: The Fed's short-term interest rate, after several more drops, hits 1 percent.

Nov. 23: The US government unveils a massive rescue package for Citigroup.

Nov. 25: The Fed creates a program (Term Asset-Backed Securities Lending Facility, or TALF) to support owners of securities backed by credit-card debt, student loans, auto loans, and small-business loans.

Dec. 16: For the first time in history, the Fed lowered its benchmark interest rate to zero.

Dec. 19: The government bails out General Motors and Chrysler, offering an initial $13.4 billion from the TARP fund.

2009 - Jan. 16: The government unveils a huge aid package for Bank of America, which includes $20 billion in bailout money and $100 billion in guarantees.

Feb. 17: President Obama signs into law a $787 billion stimulus package that includes tax cuts and money for infrastructure, schools, health care, and green energy.

Feb. 25: The Fed and other agencies announce they will be conducting 'stress tests' to see if banks need more capital.

March 9: The Dow hits the low point of the recession, closing at 6,547 – down nearly 54 percent from its Oct. 9, 2007, high.

June 1: General Motors files for bankruptcy and says it will close 14 US plants.

June: The recession officially ends after 18 months, making it the longest downturn in postwar history.

Oct. 2: The unemployment rate peaks at 10 percent, hitting double digits for the first time in 26 years.

2010 - July 21: Obama signs into law a sweeping reform of the financial system – the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Dec. 31: The number of home foreclosures in one year hits a peak at 2.9 million properties.

2011 - March 4: Unemployment falls below 9 percent.

Aug. 5: Standard & Poor's takes the unprecedented step of downgrading the US government's credit rating from AAA to AA+.

2012 - Aug. 2: The Dow hits a new high: 15,658.

Sept. 7: Unemployment falls below 8 percent, the lowest point since January 2009.

Sources: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, RealtyTrac, Bureau of Labor Statistics

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