The traditional anniversary gift for a fifth anniversary is wood, so to honor of the fifth anniversary of the financial crisis, you can hand out wooden nickels. Five years ago, the U.S. financial system was brought to its knees. As a reminder of just how bad that week was, consider this timeline:
-- Sept. 15, 2008: Lehman Brothers Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. On the same day, Bank of America announced its intent to purchase Merrill Lynch for $50 billion.
Federal Reserve Board authorized the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to lend up to $85 billion to AIG under Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act.
-- Sept. 16, 2008: The net asset value of shares in the Reserve Primary Money Fund fell below $1, mostly due to losses on Lehman Brothers commercial paper and medium-term notes. When the Reserve money market mutual fund "broke the buck," it caused panic among investors who considered money market accounts nearly the equivalent of bank savings accounts.
-- Sept. 19, 2008: To guard against a run on money market funds, the Treasury Department announced that it would insure up to $50 billion in money-market fund investments at companies that pay a fee to participate in the program. The initiative guaranteed that the funds' value would not fall below $1 a share.
-- Sept. 20, 2008: The Treasury Department asked Congress to pass legislation that would give it authority to purchase troubled assets.
-- Sept. 21, 2008: The Federal Reserve Board approved applications of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to become bank holding companies.
Here's a snapshot of where we stand five years after that momentous week:
Jobs: In September 2008, the unemployment rate was 6.1 percent, on its way up to 10 percent in October 2009. The rate now stands at 7.3 percent (http://1.usa.gov/kDnw7z). Despite progress during the recovery, the economy still has 1.9 million fewer jobs than it did before the recession. At the recent pace of job growth, it will take just under 11 months to reach the previous peak.
Income: For those lucky enough to have jobs, the financial crisis and recession put a dent in median household income. According to Sentier Research, the July 2013 median household income ($52,113), adjusted for inflation, was 6.2 percent lower than December 2007 ($55,569), the first month of the recession. Incomes are 5 percent lower than in September 2008. It may be cold comfort to consider that the recession exacerbated a trend that was already occurring: July 2013 median income was 7.3 percent lower than that of January 2000 ($56,233), the beginning of the statistical series.
Economic growth: In the fourth quarter of 2008, when the impact of the financial crisis was cascading through the system, GDP dropped by 8.3 percent. For all of 2008, GDP slid 0.3 percent, followed by a 2.8 percent drop in 2009. The official end of the recession (as determined by the Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research) occurred in June 2009. While the total size of the U.S. economy today ($15,681 trillion) is larger than it was in Q3 2008 ($14.895 trillion), the pace of the recovery has lagged the annual average post-World War II growth rate of 3-3.5 percent.
Stocks: At the end of trading that first fateful week of the crisis, the damage wasn't so bad, if you didn't have to live through the day-to-day swings. By Friday September 19, 2008, the Dow had dropped just 33 points to 11,388; the S&P 500 edged up 4 points to 1,255; and the NASDAQ was up 12 points to 2,273. Stocks bottomed out in March 2009 and then skyrocketed by nearly 150 percent to today's near-record levels.
Housing: While stock markets bottomed out about six months after the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, it took the epicenter of the crisis, the housing market, far longer. House prices peaked in 2006, then reached bottom in early 2012. National house prices are up nearly 16 percent from the post-bubble low but still remain down over 23 percent from the peak. Currently, 14.5 percent of residential properties with a mortgage are still underwater (amount owed on mortgage is more than the home's value), according to CoreLogic. The rate was down from the peak of 26 percent in Q4 2009.
Next week, we'll delve into the cost of government bailouts and provide an update on the progress of regulatory reform.
(Jill Schlesinger, CFP, is the Emmy-nominated, Senior Business Analyst for CBS News. A former options trader and CIO of an investment advisory firm, Jill covers the economy, markets, investing and anything else with a dollar sign on TV, radio (including her nationally syndicated radio show), the web and her blog, "Jill on Money." She welcomes comments and questions at email@example.com.)