100 Years of Recessions: Lessons Learned, but not Applied


Great Depression
2008 recession
financial crisis
economic relief


Large financial institutions, sometimes described as “too big to fail” (TBTF), are the epicenter of economic recessions through the past century. While literature has narrowed a set of causes for major recessions, such as in the Great Recession, fewer attempts have been identified to place each event in context as a series. By comparing causes, treatments, and outcomes of major recessions through the past century with a global perspective, beginning with the Great Depression and ending with the COVID-19 Recession, trends in governmental policy emerge as a framework in which recessions occur and are addressed. The use of fiscal relief packages, or “bailouts,” and deregulation of mergers, acquisitions, and derivative swaps are assessed as factors in the expansion of the TBTF mentality.



Băhnăreanu, C. (2020). The economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic at the beginning of 2020. Strategic Impact, 75(2), 102–112.

Bloomberg Markets and Finance. (2020a, March 30). Nassim Taleb Says “White Swan” Coronavirus Pandemic Was Preventable [YouTube]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBjVTm7F1lQ

Bloomberg Markets and Finance. (2020b, September 22). “Black Swan” Investor Nassim Taleb on Covid Misconceptions, Fed Policy, Inflation [YouTube]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePmSa-n7kBA

Borbely, J. M. (2009). U.S. labor market in 2008: Economy in recession. Monthly Labor Review, 132(3), 3–19.

Carney, J. (2009, February 4). America lost $10.2 trillion in 2008. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/2009/2/america-lost-102-trillion-of-wealth-in-2008

Chaney, C. (2020). Family stress and coping among African Americans in the age of COVID-19. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 51, 254–273. https://doi.org/10.3138/jcfs.51.3-4.003

Coakley, M. & Daniel, A. (2019). Improving consumer protection: Lessons from the 2008 recession. Minnesota Law Review, 103(6), 2477–2494.

Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2001, Pub. L. No. 106–554, 114 STAT. 2763 (2000). https://www.congress.gov/106/plaws/publ554/PLAW-106publ554.pdf

Consumer Price Index—December 2021. (2022). U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cpi.pdf

Consumer price inflation, UK: November 2021. (2021, December 15). Office for National Statistics. https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/bulletins/consumerpriceinflation/november2021

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Pub. L. No. 116–136, 134 STAT. 281 (2020). https://www.congress.gov/116/plaws/publ136/PLAW-116publ136.pdf

COVID-19 to plunge global economy into worst recession since World War II. (2020, June 8). World Bank. https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2020/06/08/covid-19-to-plunge-global-economy-into-worst-recession-since-world-war-ii

Davidson, A. (2008, September 18). How AIG fell apart. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-how-aig-fell-apart-idUSMAR85972720080918

Deng, M. (2022). China economic performance and natural resources commodity prices volatility: Evidence from China in COVID-19. Resources Policy, 75. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resourpol.2021.102525

Dixon, H., Luintel, K., & Tian, K. (2021). The impact of the 2008 crisis on UK prices: What we can learn from the CPI microdata. Oxford Bulletin of Economics & Statistics, 82(6), 1322–1341. https://doi.org/10.1111/obes.12373

Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, Pub. L. No. 115–174, S.2155 (2018). https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/2155

Edelberg, M. B., Lauren Bauer, & Wendy. (2021, September 29). 11 facts on the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/research/11-facts-on-the-economic-recovery-from-the-covid-19-pandemic/

Eichengreen, B. J. (2015). Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the Uses-and Misuses-of History. Oxford University Press.

Elliott, L. & Treanor, J. (2009, September 3). Lehman downfall triggered by mix-up between London and Washington. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2009/sep/03/lehman-collapse-us-uk-blame

Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110–343, 122 STAT. 3765 (2008). https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/PLAW-110publ343/pdf/PLAW-110publ343.pdf

Evolution of the U.S. Housing Finance System. (2006). Office of Policy Development and Research. https://www.huduser.gov/publications/pdf/us_evolution.pdf

Fall, M. K. (2019). To what extent real exchange rate appreciation contributed to the shrinking of China’s trade surpluses following the global financial crises? Research in Economics, 73(3), 235–242. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rie.2019.07.004

Frauman, D. (2003, June). Advantages of the Chapter 11 process: Acquisitions Monthly. https://www.kirkland.com/siteFiles/kirkexp/news/7408/PDF/Ch.11vsUK_Norley-603.pdf

Garcia-Barragan, F. & Liu, G. (2021). Great recession, exports crunch, and China’s fiscal stimulus in a global zero lower bound environment. Journal of Asian Economics, 75. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asieco.2021.101323

Gromski, P. S., Smith, A. D. A. C., Lawlor, D. A., Sharara, F. I., & Nelson, S. M. (2021). 2008 financial crisis versus 2020 economic fallout: How COVID-19 might influence fertility treatment and live births. Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 42(6), 1087–1096. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rbmo.2021.03.017

Gross Domestic Product (Third Estimate), GDP by Industry, and Corporate Profits (Revised), 2nd Quarter 2022 and Annual Update. (2022, September 29). U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). https://www.bea.gov/news/2022/gross-domestic-product-third-estimate-gdp-industry-and-corporate-profits-revised-2nd

Grubel, H. (2010). Who is to blame for the Great Recession? The Journal of Economic Asymmetries, 7(2), 171–186. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeca.2010.02.008

Gwartney, J. D., & Connors, J. (2009). The crash of 2008: Causes and lessons to be learned. Social Education, 73(2), 63–67.

He, C., Chang, Y., Qing, Y., & Lin, J. (2021). The comparison of economic impacts of COVID-19 between China and the United States. Procedia Computer Science, 187, 307–315. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.procs.2021.04.067

Hull, J. (2006). Options, futures, and other derivatives (6th Ed.). Pearson Prentice Hall.

Hume, D. & Steinberg, E. (1993). An enquiry concerning human understanding ; [with] A letter from a gentleman to his friend in Edinburgh ; [and] An abstract of a Treatise of human nature (2nd Ed.). Indianapolis: Hackett Pub. Co.

Ip, G. & Hitt, G. (2009, April). Mortgage securities back fed loan to Bear Stearns. Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB120709943050782205

Jin, H., Wang, H., Li, X., Zheng, W., Ye, S., Zhang, S., Zhou, J., & Pennington, M. (2021). Economic burden of COVID-19, China, January-March, 2020: A cost-of-illness study. Bull World Health Organ., 99(2), 112–124. https://doi.org/10.2471/BLT.20.267112

Kharas, H. & Seidel, B. (2018). What’s happening to the World income distribution? The elephant graph revisited. (Working paper No. 114). Global Economy and Development at Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/workingpaper114-elephantchartrevisited.pdf

Kitsos, A., & Bishop, P. (2018). Economic resilience in Great Britain: The crisis impact and its determining factors for local authority districts. Annals of Regional Science, 60(2), 329–347. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00168-016-0797-y

Kuo, L. (2020, October 19). China becomes first major economy to recover from Covid-19 pandemic. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/oct/19/china-becomes-first-major-economy-to-recover-from-covid-19-pandemic

Lee, N. (2014). Grim down South? The determinants of unemployment increases in British Cities in the 2008–2009 recession. Regional Studies, 48(11), 1761–1778. https://doi.org/10.1080/00343404.2012.709609

Liang, Y. (2022). Impact of financial development on outsourcing and aggregate productivity. Journal of Development Economics, 154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdeveco.2021.102770

Madsen, J. B. (2001). Trade barriers and the collapse of World Trade during the Great Depression. Southern Economic Journal, 67(4), 848–868. https://doi.org/10.2307/1061574

Mahoney, P. G. (2018). Deregulation and the subprime crisis. Virginia Law Review, 104(2), 235–300.

Meyerson, G., & Roberto, M. (2009). Obama’s New New Deal and the Irreversible Crisis. Socialism & Democracy, 23(2), 55–69. https://doi.org/10.1080/08854300902904766

Milstein, E., & Wessel, D. (2021, December 17). What did the Fed do in response to the COVID-19 crisis? Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/research/fed-response-to-covid19/

Moody, K. (2012). Contextualising organised labour in expansion and crisis: The case of the US. Historical Materialism, 20(1), 3–30.

Morgenson, G. (2017, February 10). The watchdog protecting consumers may be too effective. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/10/business/consumer-financial-protection-bureau-gretchen-morgenson.html

Murphy, Craig N. (2010). Lessons of a “Good” crisis: Learning in, and from the Third World. Globalizations, 7(1/2), 203–215. https://doi.org/10.1080/14747731003593539

Nanda, M., Aashima, & Sharma, R. (2021). Review of COVID-19 epidemiology and public health response in Europe in 2020. Clinical Epidemiology and Global Health, 12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cegh.2021.100882

Not too big to fail: Why Lehman had to go bankrupt. (2018, September 28). Knowledge at Wharton. https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/the-good-reasons-why-lehman-failed/

Omarova, S. T. (2019). The “Too Big To Fail” problem [Preprint]. LawArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31228/osf.io/z48u3

Ozdemir, O., Dogru, T., Kizildag, M., Mody, M., & Suess, C. (2021). Quantifying the economic impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. hotel industry: Examination of hotel segments and operational structures. Tourism Management Perspectives, 39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tmp.2021.100864

Rai, A., Seth, R., & Mohanty, S. K. (2021). Foreign bank lending in the U.S. during three U.S. recessions. Global Finance Journal, 48. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gfj.2020.100536

Richards, K. (2015, September 13). Government measures in the financial crisis. Cashfloat. https://www.cashfloat.co.uk/blog/money-borrowing/government-measures-crisis/

Richardson, G., Komai, A., Gou, M., & Park, D. (2013, November 22). Stock market crash of 1929. Federal Reserve History. https://www.federalreservehistory.org/essays/stock-market-crash-of-1929

Sharma, S. D. (2010). Japan, China, South Korea, and India: Why no immunity from the subprime credit crisis? Asian Affairs: An American Review, 37(4), 211–231. https://doi.org/10.1080/00927678.2010.520576

Silva, E. S. & Hassani, H. (2015). On the use of singular spectrum analysis for forecasting U.S. trade before, during and after the 2008 recession. International Economics, 141, 34–49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.inteco.2014.11.003

Taleb, N. N. (2007). The Black Swan: The impact of the highly improbable (1st Ed.). Random House.

The Great Recession’s effect on the federal budget. (2016, May 31). Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. https://www.stlouisfed.org/on-the-economy/2016/may/great-recession-effect-federal-budget

The IMF response to the global crisis: Meeting the needs of low-income countries. (2009, July 29). International Monetary Fund. https://www.imf.org/external/np/lic/2009/072909.htm

Trollman, H., Jagtap, S., Garcia-Garcia, G., Harastani, R., Colwill, J., & Trollman, F. (2021). COVID-19 demand-induced scarcity effects on nutrition and environment: Investigating mitigation strategies for eggs and wheat flour in the United Kingdom. Sustainable Production and Consumption, 27, 1255–1272. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spc.2021.03.001

UK Public Spending. (2022). UK National Deficit. UK Public Spending. https://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/uk_national_deficit_analysis

Watermeyer, R., Crick, T., Knight, C., & Goodall, J. (2021). COVID-19 and digital disruption in UK universities: Afflictions and affordances of emergency online migration. Higher Education, 81(3), 623–641.

Weber, E. J. (2009). A short history of derivative security markets. In W. Hafner & H. Zimmermann (Eds.), Vinzenz Bronzin’s Option Pricing Models (pp. 431–466). Springer Berlin Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-85711-2_21

Weekly epidemiological update—16 February 2021. (2021, February 14). World Health Organization (WHO). https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/weekly-epidemiological-update---16-february-2021

World Bank. (2011). The World Bank Group’s Response to the Global Economic Crisis: Phase I. The World Bank. https://doi.org/10.1596/978-0-8213-8665-1

Wu, F., Goh, C., & Hajela, R. (2012). Transformation of China’s sovereign wealth fund since the 2008-2009 global crisis. Thunderbird International Business Review, 54(3), 347–359. https://doi.org/10.1002/tie.21466

Ydstie, J. & Montagne, R. (2008, September 17). Another Bailout: Government Lends AIG $85 Billion. NPR. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=94699063

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2022 Array