World stock markets have plummeted after Lehman Brothers, the US' largest investment bank, filed for bankruptcy.
A surprise takeover of Lehman competitor Merrill Lynch and reports of American International Group (AIG) - one of the world's largest insurance companies - seeking a $40bn bridging loan, have only added to what's being called an "economic avalanche".
Al Jazeera spoke to a number of financial analysts to find out what it all means.
|America is essentially finished as a global economic power.|
|There is a threat - it lies in these vast markets for credit derivates, credit defaults, swaps, mortgage backed securities and derivitives from them, which are not liquid at the moment, which are impossible to value and which result from the breakdown of prudent regulation and prudent financial practice over the past 30 years, but particularly in the last decade.|
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