The government bailed out savings-and-loan depositors during the thrift crisis in the late 1980s. The U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve bailed out Mexico in the mid-1990s. The biggest policy mistake occurred with the Fed-supervised bailout of the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management in 1998, because it gave a green light to Wall Street to keep leveraging up.
Another policy mistake was made in 2000, right after the Nasdaq collapsed. The system probably could have handled a recession then, but instead, the Fed engineered a drop in interest rates, eventually to 1%, that encouraged a huge housing bubble. After it burst in September 2008, Bernanke slashed short-term rates to near-zero, where they are still. Meanwhile, the stock market is up 150% from its 2009 lows.