This introductory chapter first sets out the purpose of the book, which is to analyse, in a long-term historical and comparative perspective, the extent to which major crises have redesigned banking firms, increased or decreased the level of state intervention, reformed corporate governance, encouraged international cooperation, or provoked fundamental shifts in global financial and geo-political power — in other words how financial crises have not only undermined, but also reshaped the financial world. Eight financial crises are taken into consideration for the analysis: the Baring Crisis of 1890; the American Panic of 1907; the Financial Crisis of July–August 1914; the banking crises of the Great Depression of the 1930s; the Financial Instability of the early 1970s and the ensuing bank failures; the International Debt Crisis of 1982; the Japanese Banking Crisis of 1997–8; and the Financial Debacle of 2007–8. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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