On 15 September 2008, the fourth largest investment bank in the United States filed for bankruptcy protection. A small event in itself, it triggered a cataclysm. We are still living with the consequences. The US authorities who had been quick, earlier in the year, to ease the sale of another ailing investment bank, Bear Stearns, and had intervened swiftly as well over the summer to prop up the public sector mortgage lenders, Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae, decided to treat Lehman Brothers differently. They wanted to send a signal to the markets that banks, however large and prestigious, would no longer be bailed out. If they got themselves into an unsustainable position they would be allowed to go bankrupt.
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