Tomorrow, on the 9th of August 2012 we will be coming to the half a decade anniversary of the “Credit Crunch”. For some people this will not be till next year because they see Lehman Brothers as the start of the crisis.
It was on the 9th of August that BNP Paribas froze three of their funds. This action showed the world that they had no way of valuing the complex financial instruments inside known as CDOs (Collateral debt obligation) or packages of subprime loans. In the tongue of the layman they had a box of very expensive apples and didn’t know how rotten they were.
This was the first big domino falling.
In 2007 I had just graduated and looking for work. The first ripples of the credit crunch were starting to be felt. For the next two years I would be in the front row seat. My first regular paid job after University was in a bookmaker (a gambling shop). I saw how this minor tremor affected those who came and had nothing. After 7 months I then got a job in a Building Society (a savings and loans style bank) working in their customer service call centre. People I spoke to usually had some kind of problem which stemmed from losing work or the higher cost of living. As the news of Lehmans rang from the TV the phones rang in our ears wanting to know if their money was safe, or if we were in the same position.
When looking at the images of the “Credit Crunch” or as my business students call it here “The Crisis” I am wholly disappointed with the editorial focus given for the coverage of the financial crisis over the last five years. The majority of pictures focus more on the banks than the impact on the people.
There are the now synonymous images of investment bankers in the stock market yelling into phones, or the image of boards displaying stock prices going down and of course the popular protests that took place after the crunch took hold. For me in this crisis my eyes were turned another way. Maybe it was because of where I was working and what I could see at the time.
My favourite image from the crisis was taken at the very beginning when it started in the UK. The image depicts everything I experienced and a great sadness in knowing what would happen next. The image depicts a queue at a bank that goes out of the door and around the corner. People queued for hours and started early in the morning before the doors opened. This picture shows a human element, people who are afraid. They hear the news on the TV and want to be sure there money is safe. The angle of the image taken looking down at the corner of the street, you can see the people curling around. The image is a document of the first run on a British bank in 100 years.