Ghosts of Manhattan is set from late 2005 to early 2006.

In 2006, Bear Stearns has approximately $300 billion in total assets and is the seventh-largest securities firm.  Lehman Brothers reports record earnings in 2005, 2006 and 2007.  The Lehman share price reaches a peak of $86, giving a market valuation of almost $60 billion.  The firm has more than $600 billion in total assets.

The Iraq War is three years old. In May 2006, the permanent Iraqi government takes office.  Just over 2000 US troops have been killed. The Iraq Study Group Report is released and concludes that “the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating”. The Gallup approval rating for George W. Bush is about 40%.

Justin Timberlake tops the charts with Sexyback.

Annual housing starts peak at more than 2,000,000. A 30-year fixed rate mortgage is about 6%, though many borrowers take advantage of ARMs.

Mark Zuckerberg purchases the domain name facebook.com for $200,000 then launches the high school version of the web site in September 2005.  Apple Inc. is still known as Apple Computer.  The iPhone does not exist.

Jon Stewart hosts the Oscars. Crash wins Best Picture.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Lost is in season two. Mad Men has not yet premiered.

Hurricane Katrina makes landfall in southeast Louisiana on the morning of Monday, August 29, 2005.  It is recorded as the sixth strongest Atlantic hurricane ever and causes $81 billion of property damage, greater than the market capitalization of Lehman Brothers, though significantly less than the estimated $10.8 trillion eventually lost in US home and stock value between July 2008 – March 2009.