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by yu-fen-sun
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The Lehman Shock

Why the bank's failure one year ago was so much more devastating for the rest of the world than for the United States.

The failure of Lehman Bros. on Sept. 15, 2008, was an epic calamity (大規模な災難), but it may have been more important overseas--where September 2008 is referred to as "Lehman Shock"--than it was here.

In the United States, the sudden bankruptcy of America's fourth-largest investment bank was the cathartic (下剤の、下痢を起こさせる) culmination of a process that had been building since subprime lenders began to go bust (倒産する) in 2007. Before Lehman was allowed to fail, we had witnessed the shocking demise (崩御) of well-known firms such as Bear Stearns and of much larger institutions Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac (the two largest U.S. financial institutions as measured by the size of their balance sheets), and AIG. Throughout the summer of 2008, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and the Federal Reserve had been dealing with systemic failure. Yes, Lehman's demise kicked the level of hysteria up several notches (段階) and required unprecedented intervention (前代未聞の介入), particularly in the commercial paper (無担保の短期約束手形) market. But it wasn't a solitary (一人ぼっちの) event. The same day Lehman failed, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch--a larger firm than Lehman--merged. The same week, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley converted to bank holding companies so they could access new sources of credit. Meanwhile, the Bush administration began to concoct (~を企てる) a large-scale bailout (財政救済措置) and a hot presidential election took a decisive turn. Our attention quickly shifted from the dead to the living and wounded.

But for the rest of the world, Lehman's failure stands out, in part because it marked a beginning rather than an end, and in part because Lehman's failure triggered a series of events that affected economies around the world to a much greater degree than the other failures did. It seemed to be the direct cause of serious problems in a way that these other events weren't.

Lehman had issued hundreds of billions of dollars in short-term debt, including commercial paper (無担保の短期約束手形). Commercial paper is usually a boring and unsexy market. But it's a vital cog (非常に重要なもの) in the global economic engine. Companies need access to lots of short-term credit (30 days, 90 days, 180 days) to finance production and shipment of goods. Without it, they're toast (破滅、大きなトラブル). When Lehman filed for Chapter 11, it rendered (~の状態にする) a lot of its commercial paper worthless (or worth a lot less) and caused a panic among the investors and funds that owned it. For all intents and purposes (どの点から見ても), the commercial-paper market seized up (過熱して動かなくなる). If Lehman couldn't make good on its short-term debt, was it safe to lend money to anybody? Banks and financial institutions around the world lost trust in one another, causing short-term lending rates to spike (急上昇する). Since short-term credit is both the lubricant and fuel of global trade, the effect of the Lehman failure was a little like sucking the engine oil and gas out of a race car going 180 miles per hour. The whole machine stalled (失速する、行き詰まる).

All of a sudden, the world seemed to change. Yes, the United States had been in recession since the beginning of 2008. But world trade had held up (持ちこたえる) quite well. But after the Lehman shock, all world trade began to shrink rapidly. Starting in September 2008, the volume of world trade began to plummet sharply. As the World Trade Organization reported in March, "the months since last September have seen precipitous drops (急落) in global production and trade, first in the developed economies, then in developing ones as well." In late 2008, world trade was contracting (収縮する) at a 40 percent annual rate. In Japan, exports, which had held up well in 2008, fell 57 percent between August 2008 and January 2009. Through the first half of 2009, they were down nearly 40 percent from the first half of 2008. In Germany, exports in July 2009 were 25 percent below the level of July 2008. China's exports have fallen, too, although less dramatically.

This sharp contraction (収縮) in exports was as much of a shock to these countries' systems as the sharp fall in housing was to the United States. The United States had built an economy that was highly dependent on housing, leverage (財政てこ率), and easy credit--and that was unable to weather (切り抜ける、乗り越える) stress in any of those sectors. Japan, Germany, and many other countries, by the same token (同様に), had built economies that were highly dependent on credit-fueled trade. For other economies, the Lehman shock meant the sudden recognition that what for years had been a source of jobs and growth was no longer reliable. It's not just that exports to the United States shriveled after September 2008; the flow of goods everywhere, in all directions, has fallen.

世界を震撼させたLehman Brothersの経営破綻から一年です。
sub-prime mortgageもそうでしたが
2008年は世界経済危機の年でした。
人類は、これらの大惨事から教訓を得ないといけないですね。
by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-15 22:51 | 英語関連