This book situates the current crisis in the historical trajectory of the capitalist world-system, showing how the crisis was made possible not only by neoliberal financial reforms but by a massive turn away from manufacturing things of value towards seeking profit from financial exchange and credit. Much more basic than the result of a few financial traders cheating the system, this is a potential historical turning point. The book establishes why the system was ripe for crisis of the past, and yet why this meltdown was different. It concludes by asking whether as deep as the crisis is, it may contain seeds of a new global economy, what role the US will play, and whether China or other countries will rise to global leadership. This is the first part of a trilogy comprised of the first three books in the Possible Future series.