This was big for bankers, up until the year 2008 when the global financial crisis hit.
What is the meaning of big in this sentence?
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I'd say that this usage of big could be considered short for a big deal:
This was a big deal for bankers, up until the year 2008 when the global financial crisis hit.
TFD defines a big deal as:
Slang(n.) Something of great importance or consequence
In this sentence, big means important. Here is a definition: important, because of being powerful, or having a lot of influence or a serious effect.
Here are some other examples:
He had a big decision to make.
There's a big difference between starting up a business and just talking about it.
The big story in the news this week is the mayor's resignation.