History may not repeat, but it sometimes rhymes.
We might not be able to escape one, writes Professor Greg Mankiw in the weekend NYT:
"When Olivier Blanchard, the I.M.F.’s chief economist, was asked about the possibility of the world sinking into another Great Depression, he reassuringly replied that the chance was “nearly nil.” He added, “We’ve learned a few things in 80 years.”
Yes, we have. But have we learned what caused the Depression of the 1930s? Most important, have we learned enough to avoid doing the same thing again?"
Read the lot.
And also the NYT's cheat sheet: Credit Crisis — The Essentials