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Activity 4: Choose your crisis


An activity to learn about crisis and economic history. 


  • To provide a historical perspective on the contemporary crisis. 
  • To equip students with the tools to investigate issues of economic crisis and the events that led to them. 
  • To encourage students to think  critically about the commonalities and differences between the crises. 

Materials and time

Photocopy of the crisis timeline. This activity should be planned to happen over two days. On the first day, the teacher presents the activity (15 minutes); on the next session students give their presentations (time depends on the number of students and the group arrangements but it could take from one hour to two hours).

Instructions for trainers

  1. After reading through the contemporary crisis timeline, according to the crisis of interest, arrange students into small groups (no less than two, no more than four if possible). 
  2. Each group is asked to do in-depth research on the crisis they choose. Try to avoid two groups doubling up on the same event. 
  3. After researching at home, each group makes a presentation about the crisis event they chose. The presentation should be around 15 minutes. Supporting material as power points or posters are welcome. 
  4. Students should bear in mind the following items to take into account in their presentations:
    1. What were the causes of the crisis?
    2. Which sector was affected the most?
    3. Did the government take any action? If yes, which one(s)?
    4. Was there intervention from international organisations?
    5. What were the economic policy decisions applied? Austerity or Public support?
    6. Did the country better its situation? / Was a solution  found?
    7. Is it possible to identify if any income redistribution occurred? 


Crisis timeline

The late 1970s, early 1980s Latin America Debt Crisis: known as the ‘lost decade’, Latin American countries borrowed huge amounts of money from international institutions accumulating a foreign debt that later they were not able to repay. 

1997 Asian financial crisis: the crisis started in Thailand, as after acquiring the burden of a huge foreign debt, bankruptcy produced a contagion effect which spread to their closest neighbours.

1998 Russian financial crisis: the Russian government’s devaluation of the ruble fell into an impediment to repay their debt. The crisis had severe impacts on the economies of many neighbouring countries.

2001 Argentinian great depression: The impact of Russian and other regional depressions combined with the economic instability caused by the unstable pegged from the peso to the dollar caused a terrible economic crisis of high unemployment, riots, the fall of the government, and a default on the country’s foreign debt. 

The early 2000s the dot-come bubble: stock market collapse caused by excessive speculation in Internet-related companies in the late 1990s.

2009 Greek government-debt crisis: sovereign debt crisis faced by Greece in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007–08.

2008-2014 Great Recession in Spain: took place in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. The main cause of Spain’s crisis was the housing bubble and the accompanying unsustainably high GDP growth rate.

  1. Global health crisis due to Covid-19. 

Potential sources

  • Britannica Encyclopaedia 
  • IMF
  • The World Bank
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