They may have had no choice. Markets did not completely fall apart after Lehman’s bankruptcy, as some had feared, but they were highly agitated. The rate that big banks charge each other for short-term money jumped to three times the level in June, and the cost of protecting against their default broke records. Officials worried that the collapse of AIG, with its $1 trillion balance sheet and operations in 130 countries, could send the financial system into a tailspin.
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