You might be shocked with the latest events in Wall Street and around the world as well, but this is not the first time that we experience a financial crisis. Taking a look at what happened in the past can help us both to understand what caused the problems, and how people manage to solve them. For that purpose Neatorama published a really interesting post titled 10 American Financial Meltdowns in the Past Century.
Here is the quote from the first one, the Panic of 1907:
Background: At the time, the young US stock market was in a decline – it was off 25% since the beginning of the year and Wall Street was jittery over the tight money supply.
Trigger: Then along came Otto Heinze with his get-(even)-rich(er)-quick scheme. In October of 1907, Otto, along with his brother, a copper magnate named Augustus Heinze, and the ice king (yup, he sold ice – remember, this was before the age of household refrigerators) Charles W. Morse, aggressively bought shares of United Copper, thinking that they could corner the market on the stock. Their plan failed spectacularly, and immediately bankrupted the trust companies and banks that provided the financing.
Runs on banks immediately ensued as depositors pulled their money from banks that had dealings (or rumored to have dealings) with the trio. In a little less than two weeks in the Panic of 1907, a chain reaction had left 9 trust companies and banks bankrupt.
They also covered how each crisis was solved. Check out the post to read the complete list.