The Great Stay-In (Eighth of a Series)

“The GFC was a crisis that began on Wall Street and spread to Main Street. COVID-19 is a crisis that began on Main Street and spread to Wall Street.”

That’s how the capital markets head of a leading private credit firm contrasted the origins of the two worst downturns since the Great Depression. And with the financial effects of the coronavirus in its early stages, this pandemic might end up worse in some respects than the crash of the 1930’s.

Another difference between the Great Recession and the Great Stay-In? The former began with too much leverage in the system. It took all the resources of central banks to pump enough liquidity into members to deleverage and recapitalize that system.

This time around the Fed employed a variant of the 2008 tool kit, lowering interest rates to zero, spending $trillions on commercial paper and overnight repo programs, and supporting the Treasury to subsidize and incentivize the nation’s businesses.