The U.S. is bailing out the banks ("Is the Fed Bailing Out the Economy or the Banks?" by Dean Baker. The American Prospect. January 30, 2008.), as planned long ago. The rich bankers at the top paid themselves very well from the speculative bubble they created. Now that the bubble has burst, the tax payers are footing the bill. It's the upper-upper class being subsidized by the classes below for deliberate bad behavior of the richest of the rich.
The thing is, there's nothing behind the government to use that's real to keep the system from sinking. There's no equity anywhere. The prospects don't look good enough for foreigners to bank on either, meaning they aren't enjoying investing in the U.S. right now. They don't see it as a good bet. That's because it's all consumption and no bounty.
Nevertheless, they are propping up the U.S. ("Look who's bailing out Wall Street," by Grace Wong. CNNMoney.com. January 18 2008), just as the central bankers expected. The U.S. is too big to be allowed to fall they say.
The central bank (Federal Reserve) kept interest rates low to create a boom or bubble in the economy. The richest of the rich knew this before it happened. It's a pattern they all know well. Then, before the bubble is deliberately burst, those super-rich investors sell off or hedge. Once the bust has taken hold, the taxpayers are required to bailout the major institutions and to take governmental-benefits cuts while the super-rich move to privatize yet more of the system. It's a vicious cycle of greed.