The market's fear is reflected in the TED spread, a cute, cuddly name given to the difference in interest rates between inter-bank loans (LIBOR) and U.S. treasury bills. We use 3 month maturities on both to keep things apples-to-apples. The spread has shot up during the financial crisis, but I wanted to put this into some perspective:
Yes, this is a crisis. About as bad as September 1987 when the stock market crashed, but not nearly as bad as the recessions of the early 1980s, or mid 1970s, or 1970.
What I see in this chart is the Great Moderation, the milder business cycle climate that I discussed in two interviews with Mark Thoma.
So, take heart if you survived any of those past recessions. You'll likely survive this one, too.