Thursday, September 25, 2008

Two explanations for what went wrong

A fair number of you are probably sitting around wondering, "How did this all happen? Did anyone get the license number of the truck that hit the economy?" Here are a couple of accessible explanations.

Kiplinger recently had an article called 15 Things You Need to Know About the Panic of 2008. If you only have 10 minutes to spend on understanding what the heck happened, read this two-page article. It's a quick summary of how we got here that won't drown you in financial jargon.

The radio show This American Life did an episode earlier this year called The Giant Pool of Money that does a great job explaining, in layman's terms, what caused the housing market's problems. It doesn't just explain the crisis, it personifies it and makes it interesting. It also has the clearest explanations you're likely to find of mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations. This report was written in May, before the current round of investment bank failures started, but it gives insight into the roots of the crisis.

I don't have a political moral for you today. Read, listen, learn, and draw your own conclusions.

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