The End of Excess: Is This Crisis Good for America?

Our 30-year winning streak couldn't last forever. Now we're sobering up. How a reset can make America a saner, better place

Reagan: Michael Evans / Zuma; Obama: Brooks Kraft / Corbis for TIME

Don't pretend we didn't see this coming for a long, long time.

In the early 1980s, around the time Ronald Reagan became President and Wall Street's great modern bull market began, we started gambling (and winning!) and thinking magically. From 1980 to 2007, the median price of a new American home quadrupled. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed from 803 in the summer of 1982 to 14,165 in the fall of 2007. From the beginning of the '80s through 2007, the share of disposable income that each household spent servicing its mortgage and consumer debt increased...

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