While the current mortgage meltdown and resulting — or corresponding, depending on your point of view — housing bust has been described as the worst since the Great Depression, it is nothing when compared to what happened in ‘33, when a financial and economic collapse occurred that is all but impossible to imagine today. Back then, about half of all mortgage debt was in default. Unemployment reached 25%, thousands of banks and savings and loans had failed and annual mortgage lending had fallen by some 80%. New residential construction had dropped by 80% as well. The prelude to the crisis might sound familiar. It was a period of grand economic growth and overconfident lending and borrowing. The 1920s featured interest-only loans, balloon payments, an assumption of ever-rising prices and the firm belief in the easy availability of a string of refinancings...