Telegraph The past twenty years saw unprecedented growth and stability followed by the worst financial crisis the industrialised world has ever witnessed. In the space of little more than a year what had been seen as the age of wisdom was viewed as the age of foolishness. Almost overnight, belief turned into incredulity. Most accounts of the recent crisis focus on the symptoms and not the underlying causes of what went wrong. But those events, vivid though they remain in our memories, comprised only the latest in a long series of financial crises since our present system of commerce became the cornerstone of modern capitalism.