How could the crash of one segment of the US finance market drag the world into a crisis with such far-reaching effects? And how could the crisis spread to the entire world finance system and to the real economy? Could it have been avoided? Economists and policy-makers the world over have been pondering these questions in recent months, and will probably continue to do so for a long time to come. In a conference entitled Back from the Brink: Rethinking Financial Regulation held at the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei on 27 March 2009, some of the most authoritative international experts, jurists and economists sought to understand what lessons could be learnt from the crisis to improve the regulation of financial markets. This article summarises some of the ideas that emerged from the meeting.