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Credit markets and the shadow banking system

Each in its own way, economies abroad marched to the American drummer. By the end of the year, Germany, Japan, and China were locked in recession, as were many smaller countries. Many in Europe paid the price for having dabbled in American real estate securities. Japan and China largely avoided that pitfall, but their export-oriented manufacturers suffered as recessions in their major markets—the U.S. and Europe—cut deep into demand for their products. Less-developed countries likewise lost markets abroad, and their foreign investment, on which they had depended for growth capital, withered. With none of the biggest economies prospering, there was no obvious engine to pull the world out of its recession, and both government and private economists predicted a rough recovery.Video Player is loading.


How did a crisis in the American housing market threaten to drag down the entire global economy? It began with mortgage dealers who issued mortgages with terms unfavourable to borrowers, who were often families that did not qualify for ordinary home loans. Some of these so-called subprime mortgages carried low “teaser” interest rates in the early years that ballooned to double-digit rates in later years. Some included prepayment penalties that made it prohibitively expensive to refinance. These features were easy to miss for first-time home buyers, many of them unsophisticated in such matters, who were beguiled by the prospect that, no matter what their income or their ability to make a down payment, they could own a home.