The Crash of 2008: It's the Panic of 1825 all over again (also 1837, 1847, 1866 ... )

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A freeze in lending triggers a panic in a Western financial capital which then spreads around the globe, eventually tipping several South American countries into default. In a desperate attempt to stem the panic, the central bank steps in as "the lender of last resort" and unleashes a flood of new money into the palpitating financial system.

Gee, was that 1998, or 2008? Neither -- try 1825 London.

You might think an era of gas lighting, slow sailing ships and horse-drawn carriages has little to teach us about modern finance, but much of what we consider advanced capitalism has been in place since the 1500s: stock markets, portfolio insurance, options, commercial paper and global banking.