The following from Thomas Friedman pretty well sums up how we got the financial crisis.
This problem is more complicated than anything you can imagine. We are coming off a 20-year credit binge. As a country, too many of us stopped making money by making “stuff” and started making money from money – consumers making money out of rising home prices and using the profits to buy flat-screen TVs from China on their credit cards, and bankers making money by creating complex securities and leverage so more and more consumers could get in on the credit game.
via Friedman: Obama’s ball and chain – International Herald Tribune.