Here's how it begins:
Ancient thinkers from Thucydides to Cicero insisted that money was the real source of military power and national influence. We've been reminded of that classical wisdom these last three weeks.In a manner not seen since the Great Depression, Wall Street went into panic mode from too many bad debts. The symbolic pillars of American monetary strength for years — AIG, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Shearson-Lehman and Washington Mutual — in a matter of hours either went broke, were absorbed or were reconstituted. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapsed like the house of cards that they were.You can read more here. It's longish, but worth it for the conclusions he draws.
Even though the U.S. government rushed to restore trust, hundreds of billions of dollars in paper assets simply vanished. Friends and enemies abroad were unsure whether the irregular American heartbeat was a major coronary or a mere cardiac murmur. How strong really was the world's greatest economy? Was this panic the tab for years of borrowing abroad for out-of-control consumer spending? Had America finally gone too far enriching dictators by buying energy that it either could not or would not produce itself? Had the chickens of lavishing rewards on Wall Street and Washington speculators rather than Main Street producers finally come home to roost?