Primer on the financial mess…

Okay. No one can claim that the vortex of disappearing money is not confusing. Those of us who spend our days buying mere things with services thrown in for a bonus, are bound to be confused by the array of ways in which money, currencies, debt are bought, repackaged and sold. Not to mention the ways in which the possibility of any of those “things” fluctuating in value is then remade into a commodity in and of itself.

So, I’m assembling here (stay tuned to this post) as much background as I can on how this happened…

First up, is This American Life‘s collaboration with NPR on The Giant Pool of Money, an hour-long radio documentary on how excess cash begat a housing boom, a mortgage collapse, and the credit crunch. Ignore the bit from early this summer when they speculate that everything will only get as bad as the 1970s. As Lehman Brother’s understated last dispatch declares:

This episode of financial crisis appears to be much deeper and more serious than we and most observers thought it likely to be. And it is by no means clear that it is over.

Smart and graph-heavy expert Doug Henwood of Left Business Observer gives his take in two parts (1|2) as the crisis evolves.

The New York Times, which has had to start a blog called Freakonomics (after a book, but imagine the great grey paper running that title in stabler times), offers summaries of the crisis by David Leonhardt, “Bubblenomics,” and John Steele Gordon, “Greed, Stupidity, Delusion — and Some More Greed.”

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