In Their Own Words: Anatomy Of A Meltdown (SLIDESHOW)

01/22/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

WASHINGTON -- The global financial system was teetering on the edge of collapse when President Bush and his economics team huddled in the Roosevelt Room of the White House for a briefing that, in the words of one participant, "scared the hell out of everybody."

It was Sept. 18. Lehman Brothers had just gone belly-up, overwhelmed by toxic mortgages. Bank of America had swallowed Merrill Lynch in a hastily arranged sale. Two days earlier, Mr. Bush had agreed to pump $85 billion into the failing insurance giant American International Group.

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In Their Own Words: Anatomy Of A Meltdown

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