The federal bailout of the largest Wall Street banks during the 2008 financial crisis is explored in this video adapted from FRONTLINE: "Money, Power and Wall Street." Prior to this unprecedented bailout, the Federal Reserve Bank in March 2008 had bailed out the first major bank on the verge of collapse—Bear Sterns. However, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulsen then informed the banks that it would be up to them to resolve the problem when Lehman Brothers was next to collapse. With no federal bailout or support from other banks, Lehman Brothers soon failed. Fearful of further collapse, Paulsen bailed out the next financial institution in trouble—AIG. Yet the crisis only deepened, leading Paulson to ask Congress to approve a massive bailout. Lawmakers were furious, but eventually approved $700 billion. The chairmen of nine major banks were forced to take funds from the bailout, which gave the federal government an ownership share in the banks, but did not force the banks to make any changes to their policies. This resource is part of the FRONTLINE collection.
This media asset was adapted from Episodes One and Two of FRONTLINE: "Money, Power and Wall Street."