The current financial crisis, fueled by out-of-control real estate speculation, is not new. America has experienced something like it before. The great crash of 1836 has elements that are eerily similar.
Wall Street forgot that the laws of economics are as ineluctable as Newton’s law of universal gravity. (It seems politicians will never learn this.) Prices do not rise forever, risk must always equal reward, and supply and demand must balance each other over the long term.
The chief difference is that the crash of 1836 led to a full-blown depression. The current crisis is unlikely to reach that end.