Recently I was talking to someone about the mainstream press's coverage of last September's earth-shaking events, and that got me thinking about what the major newspapers were highlighting on their front pages. I thought it would be interesting to see, with the benefit of hindsight, what they were highlighting and how important they thought it was. So here are the front pages (above the fold) of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post on various days in the financial crisis. I couldn't find PDFs of the Financial Times from last September, which is unfortunate (although FT employees should feel free to help me out on that front!). I also included the full front page of the USA Today from September 15, 2008—the day after Lehman filed for bankruptcy—because it's just too damn funny.

Aside from the USA Today's September 15 debacle, I particularly enjoyed the NYT's front page from Thursday, September 18th. That Wednesday was probably the most terrifying day of the financial crisis—there was a massive run on money market funds, WaMu put itself up for sale, 3-month T-bills went to zero, Libor-OIS spiked up dramatically. And yet the second-largest headline on the NYT's front page the next day is: "McCain Seen as Less Likely to Bring Change, Poll Finds." Classic. Something also tells me the Washington Post wishes it hadn't dedicated the second-biggest headline on September 15th to....the Redskins game.

I'll leave the more substantive critiques to the journalists though.

Monday, September 15, 2008 — Lehman files for bankruptcy. Some other stuff happens too.

Thursday, September 18, 2008 — A massive run on money market funds is underway after the Reserve Primary Fund “broke the buck,” WaMu puts itself up for sale in a Hail Mary play, 3-month T-bills go to zero, the Libor-OIS spread spikes up 300 bps. One of the scariest days of the crisis, without question.

Friday, September 19, 2008 — Plans for a system-wide rescue are leaked. (Thanks, Senator Schumer!)

September 25, 2008 — Politicians and political pundits thrust themselves into the financial crisis. Idiocy ensues.

September 30, 2008 — The day after the House stunned the world by voting down the first TARP.

October 2, 2008 — TARP finally passes.

October 14, 2008 — The first TARP equity injections are announced.


Kevin said...

Seeing all these shocking headlines you think a year from now there would have been major reforms in the U.S. legislature; yet who would have imagined that one year from the worst crisis since 1929 the only thing the federal government has accomplished is funneling trillions of dollars to Wall Street, much of it unaccountable, as the repercussions of the crisis severely affect everyone else, mostly without reprieve. If someone were to have told me that would be the case, I would have assumed that meant John McCain won the election.

David Michael Barnwell said...

Hey! I'm gonna stay out of US politics, but I love the post. I'm doing a Master thesis on economic meltdown frontpages, so this is awesome inspiration! Thanks a lot!

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The Gulf Coast is STILL rebuilding after 2005 Hurricane Katrina - now further complicated by an unexpected, devastating 2012 Hurricane Isaac. 7 years to restore a few states! But, Americans unrealistically demand and expect the U.S. to resurge after 8 years of 'ignored' economic crisis - complicated by a global financial meltdown. That's all of America's states/territories. Don't forget the international impacts, namely, European markets - which are further exasperated by various 2 post 9/11wars, Middle East upheavals, riots, Asian stealth-like dominance, more natural disasters, etc... Wake up America! Sleep during the Bush-era, 4 years of delusional expectations - and now playing the 'blame-game by pointing at an administration that 'inherited' a mess and unfinished business. Let's not forget the Legislative 'checks-and-balance' branch of government called Congress that primarily bickered along party-lines, instead of rising above political stalemates through bipartisanship legislation that would have enacted the very 'CHANGE' that President Obama called for --put the American people first!

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