Ten years ago, on September 15 2008, the world woke up to the largest and most devastating bankruptcy filing in history. When financial services firm Lehman Brothers collapsed, it wiped away 25,000 jobs in a moment and set off a domino effect across global markets that led to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression – and, some argue, ever.
House prices plunged. Almost nine million Americans lost their jobs over the following two years, as did millions more across the globe. In an unprecedented move, huge financial institutions in the US and Europe were bailed out, receiving billions in loans as governments tried to stem the contagion. All told, losses from the crisis are estimated to be about $10tn — more than a sixth of global gross domestic product in 2008.
Who were the faces behind these numbers? The following seven stories are from people on the front lines of the crisis. Most are FT readers who responded to our call. We also looked for stories via social media, outside our usual channels, to get a wider range of life experiences. You’ll meet a homebuyer in Florida whose house was foreclosed, a regulator in London whose career thrived, and a Lehman employee who, disillusioned, gave it all up to work for Oxfam. Everyone we spoke to felt they had changed. Most feel cautious. None feel safer.