The financial crisis of 2007 to 2009 can be divided into two distinct phases. The first and more limited phase from August 2007 to August 2008 stemmed from losses in one relatively small segment of the U.S. financial system—namely, subprime residential mortgages. Despite this
disruption to financial markets, real GDP in the United States continued to rise into the second quarter of 2008, and forecasters were predicting only a mild recession. In mid-September 2008, however, the financial crisis entered a far more virulent phase. In rapid succession, the investment
bank Lehman Brothers entered bankruptcy on September 15, 2008; the insurance firm AIG collapsed on September 16, 2008; there was a run on the Reserve Primary Fund money market fund on the same day; and the highly publicized struggle to pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) began. How
did something that appeared in mid-2008 to be a significant but fairly mild financial disruption transform into a full-fledged global financial crisis? What caused this transformation? Did the government responses to the global financial crisis help avoid a worldwide depression? What challenges
do these government interventions raise for the world financial system and the economy going forward?
The Journal of Economic Perspectives (JEP) attempts to fill a gap between the general interest press and most other academic economics journals. The journal aims to publish articles that will serve several goals: to synthesize and integrate lessons learned from active lines of economic research; to provide economic analysis of public policy issues; to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas among the fields of thinking; to offer readers an accessible source for state-of-the-art economic thinking; to suggest directions for future research; to provide insights and readings for classroom use; and to address issues relating to the economics profession.