We all know the story, but if you're inclined to review the gory details and, perhaps, enhance your historical perspective along the way, the Bank for International Settlements has just the report you're looking for.
Yesterday's release of the December 2008 installment of the BIS Quarterly Review is a sobering publication, to be sure, given the events of late. Indeed, children and squeamish individuals may want to avert their eyes.
Having pored over a number of similarly recondite treatises in recent months, your editor is up to his eyeballs in official reviews and reflections. Newspapers are great for immediacy, but a broader, deeper perspective is essential. If you only read (or selectively scan) one of these documents, and you have a preference for academic accounts of financial chaos, put this one on your short list.
Granted, there are no silver bullets, smoking guns or secret formulas here. But BIS staff does a yeoman's job of summarizing, analyzing and condensing the greatest financial implosion since the Great Depression. Stepping back and considering the implications, lessons and, as Kurtz would say, the horror may not be anyone's idea of fun. But there's something to be said for taking a hard look at major economic events, and this early draft of history does as good a job as any at delivering the analytical goods. For those pressed for time, simply reviewing the graphs offers a mini-education in the finer points of post-mortem financial analysis.
That said, here's a bit of eye candy (click for larger images), courtesy of the newly minted BIS review: