Cooler heads are looking at the world economic data, and starting to come to the conclusion, voiced by yours truly a number of times, that the US financial crisis was/is a symptom of a world economic slowdown, not the other way around
Compare the decline in real GDP over the past 4 quarters (from The Economist):
Does it make sense to blame the largest declines in GDP on one country with the smallest decline? If so, then we need some explanation of how some uniquely American "illness has spread" to so many innocent victims.
If the explanation is supposed to be falling U.S. imports, then the worst decline by far would have been in Canada and Mexico (where real GDP was rising even in the third quarter). If the alleged causality is supposed to be because of some undefined links between financial centers, then Italy would not be among the hardest hit.
When it comes to trade, in fact, the shoe is mainly on the other foot: Collapsing foreign economies crushed U.S. exports.
In the second quarter of 2008, U.S. exports accounted for 1.54 percentage points of the 2.83% annualized rise in real GDP. But falling exports subtracted 2.84 percentage points from fourth quarter GDP. Falling exports, not falling consumption, were the biggest single contributor to the overall drop of 3.8%.
After looking at which economies fell first and fastest, it might be more accurate to say that some foreign illness has spread to the U.S. economy than to assert or assume the causality ran only in the opposite direction.