The first episode of Niall Ferguson’s The Ascent of Money won’t air on PBS until July 8. But you can watch it right here right now. The four-part series traces the rise of the modern financial system, providing a historical perspective for our current crisis. One of the lessons that is very clear is that financial crises are nothing new. In fact, they’ve been a feature of financial history since earliest times. And here’s the good news: despite the trauma, things get better.

The first episode is particularly relevant today, given the news of Madoff’s 150-year sentence; it includes the story of John Law, a Scotsman who in the late seventeenth century devised a scheme not unlike Madoff’s that created the first stock market bubble and nearly destroyed France. 

The rest of the series will air all through July on PBS, with new episodes on July 8, 15, 22 and 29 at 9 p.m. (ET)