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'Modern history’s greatest regulatory failure’; ‘The end of American capitalism as we know it’; these are just two of the headlines thrown up by the credit crunch, both appearing in the Financial Times, the organ of British finance capital. In the course of a single week, we have seen the collapse of three of America’s biggest financial institutions: on Sunday 13th September, Bank of America announced it was buying out Merrill Lynch, one of the world’s most famous investment banks; on the following Monday, Lehman Brothers, the fourth largest securities firm in the US, filed for bankruptcy; and, as if that were not enough, on Tuesday, the US Federal Reserve invested $85 billion in a takeover of AIG, America’s largest insurance company. More recently, on Thursday 25th, the huge US bank Washington Mutual, in a state of collapse, was taken over by JP Morgan Chase, in a move described as ‘the biggest bank failure in American history” (Saskia Scholtes, Joanna Chung and Deborah Brewster, JPMorgan swoops in again, FT, September 26 2008).