Crises are nearly always unexpected. When Russia defaulted in 1998, it caused a crisis because the markets didn't see it coming. But Argentina's much larger default in 2001, or Venezuela's in 2018, caused barely a broader ripple because they were so clearly signposted and expected.

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

The chart of the last five years of the Lehman Brothers' share price shows a company going to zero in pretty much the most orderly way you could imagine. It doesn't suddenly plunge at the end; rather, the decline begins in mid-January 2007, a full 20 months before catastrophe strikes. This chart is a chronicle of a bankruptcy foretold.

Between the lines: If the crisis really began on Sept. 15, 2008, it's not because Lehman fell — it's because the Fed wasn't there to catch its fall. When shareholders lose money, that almost never has systemic consequences.

  • But Lehman was an integral part of the plumbing of the financial system and had tens of thousands of counterparties around the world. Those counterparties woke up in a world where they had no idea whether they owned their assets anymore. And that is the kind of thing that causes a crisis.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 p.m. ET: 31,201,975 — Total deaths: 963,068— Total recoveries: 21,356,412Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 p.m. ET: 6,833,931 — Total deaths: 199,815 — Total recoveries: 2,615,949 — Total tests: 95,841,281Map.
  3. Health: CDC says it mistakenly published guidance about COVID-19 spreading through air.
  4. Media: Conservative blogger who spread COVID-19 misinformation worked for Fauci's agency.
  5. Politics: House Democrats file legislation to fund government through Dec. 11.
  6. World: U.K. upgrades COVID alert level as Europe sees worrying rise in infections — "The Wake-Up Call" warns the West about the consequences of mishandling a pandemic.

Louisville police declare state of emergency as Breonna Taylor decision looms

A demonstrator holds up a sign of Breonna Taylor during a protest in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The Louisville police chief declared in a memo obtained by news outlets a "state of emergency" for the department on Monday to prepare for Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron's expected announcement on the Breonna Taylor case.

Of note: Louisville has witnessed more than 115 days of protests over the police killing of Taylor, an unarmed Black woman, with calls for all the officers involved to be charged.

Sen. Cory Gardner on vacant Supreme Court seat: "I will vote to confirm"

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) will vote to confirm President Trump's nominee to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, he announced in a statement Monday.

Why it matters: The development is a win for President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). It should mean Republicans are all but assured to have enough support to hold hearings for Trump's potential nominee.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!