In 2007, the world experienced the biggest financial crisis since
the Great Depression. Former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan,
called it a "once-in-a-century type of event". This global
downturn was caused by a number of factors.
it was the result of a Wild West casino mentality which had characterised banking in recent years, combined with a lack of
regulation. Merchant bankers – keen to make a fast buck – had realised
there were vast numbers of poor Americans who had been refused loans
because they wouldn't be able to pay them back. Motivated by short term
gains, they employed predatory mortgage lenders to offer these people
the chance to own their first home. Inevitably, this led to millions
of poor Americans now owning homes they could not afford. Bankers
then bundled these mortgages together with more secure loans,
before selling them on to other banks, who sold them onto other financial
institutions, and so on. The bankers then received enormous bonuses
for the commission and fees they generated.
prime" market was a time bomb waiting to go off. As interest rates
rose, millions of Americans began defaulting on repayments. Loans
which had originated from them were suddenly shown to be worthless –
but it was already too late, as trillions of dollars' worth had spread
throughout the system. With banks afraid to lend to each other – and
not knowing the extent of each others' exposure – the outcome was a collapse
on an unprecedented scale, with a liquidity crisis almost unparalleled
in history. Some of the largest banks in the world, including Lehman
Brothers and Bear Sterns, fell into administration. Mortgage giants
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were nationalised. Even the likes of AIG
and Citigroup had to be rescued.
major factor was simply the greed of consumers
and their desire for instant gratification. In addition to buying homes
they couldn't afford, credit cards and loans were used on spending binges for personal items, holidays and other products they didn't particularly need. Personal
debt levels soared, leading to
a massive rise in bankruptcies and foreclosures, triggering a worldwide
Sarkozy is elected President of the French Republic
succeeded Jacques Chirac as French president and promised to usher in
a new era of change. His aims included the revitalisation of the French
economy, reviving the work ethic, promoting new initiatives and fighting racial intolerance. In foreign affairs he promised a strengthening
of the entente cordiale with the United Kingdom and closer
cooperation with the USA. He married former model Carla Bruni
Brown succeeds Tony Blair as Prime Minister of Great Britain
during the first few months of his premiership, Brown enjoyed a strong
lead in the polls. His popularity was due in part
to his handling of several serious events during his first weeks as
Prime Minister. By late 2008, however, his popularity had fallen significantly, with eight Labour
MPs urging a leadership contest. This threat receded due
to his perceived strong handling of the global financial crisis.
reached an all-time low during the expenses scandal of May 2009, which Brown
was seen to deal with indecisively. To make matters worse, Brown's cabinet
began to rebel, with several key resignations in the run up to local
and European elections in June 2009. Brown was defeated at the 2010 general election and succeeded as Prime Minister by the conservative David Cameron.
debuts the iPhone
in June 2007, the iPhone was a multimedia-enabled smartphone designed
and marketed by Apple. Functioning as a camera phone (also including
text messaging and visual voicemail), a portable media player (equivalent
to a video iPod), and Internet client (with e-mail, web browsing, and
Wi-Fi connectivity), it used a multi-touch screen to provide a virtual
keyboard in lieu of a physical keyboard. Time magazine named
it the Invention of the Year.
advanced model, the iPhone 3G, was released in July 2008. This supported
faster 3G data speeds and assisted GPS. Apple released version 3.0 of
the iPhone OS for the iPhone (and Touch) in 2009. The iPhone 3GS
had better performance, a camera with higher resolution and video
capability, as well as voice control. By 2010,
over 42 million units had been sold, with tens of thousands of downloadable
apps now available.
suicide bombings kill 796 people in Kahtaniya, northern Iraq
Yazidi communities bombings occurred at 8pm local time on 14th
August 2007, when four co-ordinated suicide bomb attacks detonated in
the villages of Kahtaniya and Jazeera, near Mosul. Entire neighbourhoods
were flattened by the blasts. Iraqi Red
Crescent's estimates stated that 796 were killed and 1,562 wounded,
making it the Iraq War's most deadly car bomb attack during the period
of American combat operations. It was also the second deadliest act
of terrorism in the world – following only behind the 9/11 attacks on
the U.S. which killed 3,000 people. No group
claimed responsibility for the attack, though Al-Qaeda were suspected.
sea ice hits a record low
sea ice hit a record low of 4.1 million km² during the summer
of 2007. This shattered the previous record, with an area of extra
melting the size of five United Kingdoms. For the first time in recorded
history, the fabled Northwest Passage became open to ships without the
need for icebreakers.
Kindle was a new software and hardware platform developed by Amazon subsidiary
Lab126, for rendering and displaying e-books and other digital media.
The device used an electronic paper display and was able to download
books and other digital content from Amazon, without a computer and
without any monthly fee.
Street View is launched
Street View was a technology featured in Google Maps and Google Earth
that provided panoramic views from various positions along many streets
in the world. Originally launched only in several US cities, it was gradually expanded to include many more cities, towns and rural areas worldwide.
Bhutto is assassinated in Pakistan
was assassinated on 27th December 2007 after departing a PPP rally
in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi – just two weeks before the scheduled
Pakistani general election of which she was a leading opposition
candidate. The following year, she was named one of seven winners of
the UN Prize in the Field of Human Rights.
Memorial at the site of Bhutto's assassination. Credit: Khalid Mahmood (CC BY-SA 3.0)