To understand a severe economic crisis such as that of 2008, it is not sufficient to analyze capitalism-in-general along with various economic policy decisions and contingent events. An adequate analysis requires taking account of the institutional form of capitalism. Capitalist economies have taken a variety of institutional forms over time and across space, and each such institutional form tends to be stable for an extended period of time. The roots of a severe economic crisis are to be found by analyzing the ways in which a particular institutional form of capitalism eventually produces obstacles to continuing capital accumulation. This approach to crisis theory is illustrated by an examination of the roots of the crisis that broke out in 2008 in the United States.