I think that most people don't really know what happened this time. I think, however, that history, if honest, will show that it was abandoning solid economics and financial principles in favor of well intended, but ill advised social engineering that created the current financial crisis. Such engineering in itself, did not cause the avalanche, but the policies that favored it also opened the door to speculators who saw opportunity to make a fast buck in an artificially manufactured economic climate.
Then, when the world who for better or worst chose to make the United States the center of the financial universe, it could not avoid being caught up the avalance once the whole thing began sliding.
Who is responsible?
1. Those who put personal ideology ahead of sound financial principle.
2. Those who sought to capitalize on unsound financial principle hoping to benefit from riding the artificial bubble.
3. Those who failed to accept responsibility and correct their error.
4. Those who failed to sufficiently regulate and prevent the problem.
5. Those who proposed and enacted unsound schemes to save the day.
6. Those who panicked and exacerbated the problem.
(I didn't include but could have included the people who elected a bunch of incompetent numbnuts who allowed all this to happen.)
I am sensing that we are rattling around near or at the bottom now. From its low at the beginning of the day to it's highest point today, the Dow moved almost 1000 points and then fell back to a less than a disastrous loss. It's probably a really good time to get in. Having lost a huge chunk of the paper value of our portfolio in all this, its really hard to muster up the nerve to make additional investments though.