11. Credit Crunch

Watching a financial crisis feels much like watching a natural disaster—as long as you’re watching from a safe distance. The raw, uncontrollable power of each is riveting. Although one is made by man and the other isn’t, there is something deeply mysterious about each; it isn’t quite clear how, or why, or why now. Of course, each can create enormous damage and can be heartbreaking for those directly involved. The repercussions last well beyond the immediate shock; nearly everyone is affected at least indirectly, and each leaves scars that never entirely disappear.

The subprime shock was as serious a financial earthquake as any the nation had seen since the 1929 stock market crash.1 There have been some big financial calamities ...

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