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A year of crisis, bailouts and financial scandals

Text by Katherine THOMPSON

Latest update : 2009-12-25

To get a better view of what lies ahead, FRANCE 24 takes a look back at the year that saw financial news move from the business pages to the front page. One positive effect: we are all now experts on recessions and stimulus packages.

The western financial model was rocked to its very core in 2009, with the jury still out for many on whether our global financial markets can bounce back from the cataclysmic shock triggered by the US sub-prime crisis or whether more trouble lies ahead.

To get a better view of what's in store in 2010, FRANCE 24 takes a look back on the year which saw financial news dominate the front pages and the public become experts on recessions and stimulus packages.

Saint George's Dragon, emblem of The City

New EU Commissioner – is he up to the challenge?

Frenchman Michel Barnier dominated the news at the close of 2009 and will be the man to watch in 2010.

As the new EU Commissioner responsible for overhauling financial services, he has a large remit and faces a tough challenge in rebuilding public trust in financial services.

Barnier will be watched closely by the City of London after controversial comments from French President Nicolas Sarkozy about reigning the City's unregulated financial power.

However, as Lord Adair Turner told FRANCE 24 in an exclusive interview, Barnier is a well-respected operator whose appointment is viewed as a positive development by many in the industry.

Barnier is appointed - Sarkozy’s remarks - The new FSA chief - Video: Is Barnier a threat to London? - Banier seeks to calm UK fears

A Greek tragedy

Greece's fall from financial grace at the end of 2009 surprised many but led to a sigh of relief among some financiers who feared the very real problems facing the Greek economy were being ignored.

The Greek government has made a lot of noise about addressing the issues but as yet appears unwilling to make the tough cutbacks that are vital for recovery. One to watch for 2010.

Greece suffers a humiliating ratings downgrade - IMF intervention? - Prime minister Papandreou on reform - Prime minister Papandreou on the economy

Dubai, the former jewel of the Emirates

Dubai – meltdown in the desert

Dubai rocked global markets when on Nov. 25 it asked creditors to freeze its debts - totalling some 26 billion dollars - linked to its two property firms, Nakheel and Limitless World.

On Dec. 14, Abu Dhabi came to the rescue to ease fears of a meltdown in the desert. On Dec. 17, the UAE's foreign minister declared the crisis over with a 10 billion dollar aid package.

The safety net seems to have calmed financial markets, but some investors remain sceptical and few will forget the turmoil following Nov. 25.

The Dubai debt shock - Chairman of FSA Adair Turner - Stocks fight back – bailout

GM and the auto industry – the unthinkable

The unthinkable happened in 2009. GM, once the darling of US industry, went bankrupt, dealing a huge psychological blow to Americans in the middle of one of the most difficult recessions in modern times.

GM was not alone, and many of the world's most respected auto makers struggled to keep their heads above water as the markets went into freefall.

Along with massive bailouts, the US government arguably saved the sector with the highly successful Cash for Clunkers scheme. This year also saw massive restructuring of the entire sector, which makes for a leaner auto industry in 2010.

GM files for bankruptcy link - GM: repaying debt and selling Opel - Selling Opel - U-turn: no sale - Koenigsegg and Saab - Interim chief to turn Opel around: - restructuring for January - Cash for clunkers

Bernard Madoff leaves court, handcuffed.

Bernard Madoff – how did he get away with it?

Bernard Madoff, a financial wizard in every sense of the word, was arrested in 2008 for running a Ponzi fraud scheme.

But the astonishing scale of his deception and the damage done to countless families, businesses and charities only truly became clear when his trial began in 2009.

We not only learnt of the scale of his victims' losses and those complicit in his scheme, but saw the eye-watering wealth of the fraudster with an auction of his ill-gotten gains.

Auction of his possessions - Madoff cancer - The net widens – arrest of auditor

Stimulus packages – jump start

As the full impact of the global recession was felt, governments from Japan to France to Germany took emergency measures by implementing huge stimulus packages to jump start their economies.

These measures appear have had a positive impact so far but some are asking whether increasing national debt to artificially boost our economies is really the right solution to a recession triggered by debt.

Japan - France - USA - Germany

Bank bailouts – cap in hand

Images of once proud stalwarts of Wall Street going cap in hand to their governments sent shock waves round the globe in 2009.

With the help of these government bailout packages, many investment banks have started to recover and have already been repaying their loans, but it has resulted in a schism between the financial sector and the taxpayer.

Many now regard these once well respected companies with suspicion and even anger due to the alarmingly large sums necessary to save these banks, and the equally large salaries and bonuses that were paid to their employees.

Bank of America - CIT - BNP Paribas - Taxing bonuses

Date created : 2009-12-24