Descent into the financial vortex: a chronology of the crisis

Ishara S. Kodikara | AFP | Getty Images Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, center, speaks to supporters at the prime minister's official residence in Colombo on December 16, 2018, after he was reappointed as prime minister by Sri Lanka's president, the same man who fired him from the job nearly two months ago.

PARIS, November 12, 2008 (AFP) – Key stages in the worldwide financial crisis, which is to be discussed at a summit in Washington on Saturday:

– February 2007: First signs of strain in the US market for “subprime” property loans, granted to people who in many cases have no real prospect of paying them back.

– August 2007: The European Central Bank steps in to bail out a little-known French investment fund which has run into trouble. It is to be the first of many such moves around the world, with greater sums involved each time.

– January 2008: The US Federal Reserve, or central bank, makes the first of several interest rate cuts.

– February: The British government nationalises Northern Rock, a major bank involved in risky property loans.

– March: Bear Stearns becomes the first big US investment bank to get into trouble due to subprime exposure. It is sold off in a deal engineered by the central bank.

– September: A dramatic series of new banking failures pushes the US government to take a role in the economy that would have been unthinkable since the Depression days of the