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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:

big deal Slang (n.) Something of great importance or consequence

You can look up instances of this was big for us and this was a big deal for us on Google news, and you'll see that the two phrases are both rather common and used in very similar ways.

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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.

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