Sept. 15, 2008 – The day that Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and the world shuddered. If one of the largest financial-services institutions in the world could fail, then what’s safe? That month the U.S. government bailed out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG. We saw wild volatility in the stock market; runs on some banks; and the freezing of inter-bank, short-term lending. The United States and much of the world was moving from a recession into a possible economic meltdown.
On Oct. 3, 2008, the U.S. Congress created the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) through the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA). The Treasury Department began pumping some of the allocated $700 billion into nine financial institutions. EESA also established the Office of the Special Inspector General for the TARP (SIGTARP) to be the watchdog for the unprecedented injection of taxpayers’ money into the economic system.
A year and a few months later, we’re not out of the woods. But apparently the recession is easing. (Of course, tell that to the laid-off carpenter in Bend, Ore., or the fired automobile worker in Togiliatti, Russia.) This issue of Fraud Magazine explores the relationship between the recession and fraud. We’re only just beginning to see how the upheaval has caused more fraud in all sectors, but it’s a good time to start taking stock.