Playing Catch-Up

Okay, I get it -- you're busy, you've got kids, a job, a mortgage to (hopefully) pay. You haven't had time to navigate the alphabet soup of the financial crisis -- CDO, LBO, CDS, SIV. But it's getting a little hard to ignore, what with even late-night talk show hosts talking about hedge funds and derivatives with the President.

Luckily, there are plenty of accessible, easy-to-understand resources out there by now, so it's easy to get up to speed.

The most recent one we've seen is this video by Jonathan Jarvis, a graduate student at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design. It is not only hugely informative (my Newsweek colleague Adam Kushner calls it "the best distillation I've seen") but also a great piece of eye-candy. Design and graphics snobs will rejoice.

Part 1:

Part 2:

If you've got a bit more time on your hands, public-radio show This American Life put together two hour-long programs about The Great Panic of 2008. The first, from way back in May 2008, explains the origins of the crisis in "The Giant Pool of Money" sloshing around the globe, and why all that money led to dodgy mortgages. The second show -- aptly named "Another Frightening Show About the Economy" -- dates back to last October, and provides a better explanation of credit-default swaps than anything else I've heard or seen.

If you need more, blogger and journalist Matt Thompson has put together a great, explanatory site over at The Money Meltdown. It's a bit old at this point -- he put it together in the early days of the crisis, back in October -- but links to some timeless material, including the This American Life shows mentioned above.