The Panic of 2008
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The Panic of 2008

Causes, Consequences and Implications for Reform

Edited by Lawrence E. Mitchell and Arthur E. Wilmarth, Jr

The Panic of 2008 brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines to examine the causes and consequences of the global credit crisis, the subsequent collapse of the financial markets, and the following recession. The book evaluates the crisis in historical context, explores its various legal, economic, and financial dimensions, and considers various possibilities for reform. The Panic of 2008 is one of the first in-depth efforts to study the crisis as it was in the very earliest stage of resolution, and establishes a foundation for thinking about and evaluating current reform efforts and the likelihood of recurrence.
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Chapter 1: The Panic of 2008: Something Old and Something New

Maury Klein


Maury Klein History is often regarded as something between a balm and an oracle, replete with a variety of signs that must be interpreted by those who think they have special insight into what they mean. The story is never a complete or fully satisfying one because the variables are so maddingly elusive. Have we chosen the best set of quivering entrails to examine? Do we have all the relevant facts? Do we have them accurately? What if anything do they tell us about the present situation? Every major crisis sends us scurrying to our past for clues to what is going on. We ransack it relentlessly but never to our complete satisfaction because it is so crowded and contradictory in its contents. Most people would like very much to believe that history repeats itself. It would help make sense of the present and offer reliable guidelines for the future. Above all it would give the hopelessly cluttered closet of the past a sense of order and meaning by offering simple and convenient explanations for complex events that otherwise defy clear understanding. Unfortunately history never repeats itself, but historical patterns do. They are constants that arise from the timeless fundamentals of human behavior. It is through these most basic elements of human nature – love, hate, greed, sacrifice, fear, ambition and the like – that we find the clearest and most satisfying understanding of the past. Although it is true that the past is a foreign country where they do things differently,...

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