The big debate on Wall Street these days is whether the subprime credit crisis is a short-term financial problem or an indication of a protracted economic downturn, The Wall Street Journal reports. Market historians fear it’s actually the signal of the latter.

The defaulting loans have certainly fueled some panic, much like the market crash of 1987 and the failure of Long-Term Capital Management in 1998. But in those cases, the market rebounded within six months.

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