As top officials at the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, and the nation's largest banks struggled last weekend to save the doomed Lehman Brothers and worried over a half-dozen other larger institutions that are so interconnected that world markets could be shocked and easily destabilized by their collapse, I was reminded of a passage from William Manchester's book on the Middle Ages, "A World Lit Only by Fire": "Even the wisest of them were at a hopeless disadvantage, for their only guide in sorting it all out — the only guide anyone ever has — was the past, and the precedents are worse than useless when facing something entirely new."

Welcome to the Interconnected Age, where mammoth financial institutions are allowed to grow so large and become so interconnected that the very foundations of our nation's economy can be cracked by the failure of one of these financial beasts. Welcome to a world that was not created by Alan Greenspan's Federal Reserve, though the central bank certainly was its chief facilitator and cheerleader, with a healthy assist from Wall Street financial moguls and "free market" think tanks.

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