Since the great financial crisis started several years back with the bankruptcy of the relatively small Lehman Brothers Bank, politicians have been living in fear: fear of an enemy they do not know and whose rules they are not familiar with. Since the crisis began, they’ve been trying to understand those rules that the banks, the hedge funds, the stock markets and the speculators play by. But not just that. Ever since the start of the crisis they’ve been trying to beat the banks and markets with their own weapons.

That’s how the disaster got underway. Not that there hadn’t been similar crises before, like the tulip bubble in the 16th Century, when the speculation in perishable bulbs ruined a whole nation. In the Middle Ages, countries went bankrupt, and dynasties – the Welsers, the Fuggers, the Medicis – gave themselves up to the big banks. In the 1930s the Great Depression unleashed destructive forces around the world. In 2011, we do not know yet where the financial crisis is leading us.

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