TIMELINE: 2008 a year of global financial turbulence

(Reuters) - The biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression nearly 80 years ago has hit the world this year. Here are some key dates:

January 11 - Bank of America pays $4 billion for Countrywide Financial after the mortgage lender goes bust when risky loans to shaky borrowers fail.

February 17 - Britain’s Northern Rock is nationalised after funding crisis.

March 16/17 - Bear Stearns sold to U.S. investment bank JP Morgan Chase for about $2 a share.

July 13 - U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve effectively nationalizes mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in a bid to support U.S. housing market.

Sept 14/15 - Investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc files for bankruptcy protection; rival Merrill Lynch & Co Inc agrees to be taken over by Bank of America Corp

September 16 - Fed announces plan for $85 billion loan to American International Group Inc in return for 80 percent stake in the insurer; Britain’s Barclays buys parts of Lehman’s North American assets for $1.75 billion.

September 17 - British bank Lloyds TSB Group Plc agrees to rescue rival HBOS Plc, scooping up Britain’s biggest home loan lender in an all-share deal.

September 18 - The UK Financial Services Authority imposes a temporary ban on short-selling financial stocks, a move echoed in other centers.

September 19 - U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson calls for the government to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to take toxic mortgage assets off the books of financial companies to restore financial stability. News of the bailout plan helps world stock markets soar.

September 20 - Details emerge of a $700 billion plan to bail out firms burdened with bad mortgage debt.

-- A U.S. bankruptcy judge approves a revised version of Barclays purchase of the core U.S. business of Lehman.

September 21 - Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Morgan Stanley become bank holding companies regulated by the Fed.

September 22 - Nomura Holdings Inc says it will buy Lehman’s franchise in Asia Pacific and acquires Lehman’s business in Europe. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial agrees to buy up to 20 percent of Morgan Stanley for $8.5 billion.

September 23 - AIG signs “definitive” agreement for up to $85 billion in borrowings from the Fed, the main part of a rescue plan that will see it take a 79.9 percent stake in the insurer.

September 24 - Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc says it will buy up to 9 percent of Goldman, which also announced plans to sell $2.5 billion in common stock.

-- CNN says the FBI is investigating Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and AIG and their senior executives for potential mortgage fraud.

September 25 - Washington Mutual is closed by the U.S. government in the largest failure of a U.S. bank. Its banking assets are sold to JPMorgan Chase & Co for $1.9 billion.

September 29 - Britain announces the nationalization of mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley Plc. Spain’s Banco Santander SA will buy its retail deposits and branch network. Banking and insurance company Fortis NV is bailed out by Belgian, Dutch and Luxembourg governments to the tune of 11.2 billion euros ($16.4 billion). Wachovia Corp agrees to sell most of its assets to Citigroup Inc in a deal brokered by regulators.

-- U.S. House of Representatives rejects the $700 billion rescue plan for the financial industry. Dow Jones posts its largest point decline ever while the S&P 500 has its worst day since 1987 with an 8.8 percent drop.

September 30 - World stocks fall to near three-year lows but fears of a major meltdown ease as European losses are muted.

- EU regulators endorse a 6.4 billion euro public bailout of Belgian-French financial services group Dexia SA.

-- Ireland pledges more than double its GDP to guarantee all bank deposits.

October 1 - U.S. Senate passed a revamped U.S. financial rescue plan aimed at restoring global financial stability, sending the measure to the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote expected on Friday.

Writing by David Cutler and Gill Murdoch, Editorial Reference Units in London and Beijing;