Why have financial crises been increasingly frequent and severe in the last thirty years? How can financial crises be prevented? What role do governments and international institutions play in their prevention? How does the latest crisis fit in the long-term political economy cycle of finance? This book answers these questions, using three complementary parts: Part I provides the reader with the 'toolkit' necessary for understanding financial crises -- explaining the essential elements of economic theory. In Part II the authors put these key theories in context, using them to illustrate the chief international crises since the Great Depression of the 1930s and events that, since the 1980s, have triggered a high level of instability. Whenever appropriate, similarities and differences between these historic crises and the recent crisis are highlighted. Part III focuses on the Great Crisis of 2007-09, triggered by the turmoil in the subprime mortgage market of the USA. By offering a comprehensive explanation of the long-term dynamics of financial systems and by depicting the prototype of a financial crisis, the book enables an in-depth understanding of any specific crisis and gives models for identifying the crisis's true origins and amplification channels. The book concludes with a discussion of ways to secure a stable, sustainable future for globalized finance.