The Panic of 1837 is generally attributed to a number of causes. Among those causes are:
- Speculation, particularly in western lands. Speculators borrowed money to buy western lands, thus creating a "bubble" that was not sustainable.
- Andrew Jackson's "Bank War." Jackson's actions with regard to the bank and his "Specie Circular" tightened the credit that was available to speculators, thus helping to cause the crash.
- Circumstances in foreign countries. Most significantly, failures of British banks led to a further contraction of credit in the US.
The recent financial crisis is generally said to have come about because of speculation. In this case, it was speculation and a bubble in housing prices that caused the crash. Once the crash was well underway, similar problems in Europe helped to prolong the recession and make it deeper.
In these ways, the two crises have clear similarities to one another.