Another excellent program on This American Life today all about the financial crisis. If you remember back in May I recommended their program called The Giant Pool of Money which explained in easy to understand terms how the sub-prime lending debacle happened. Similarly today's program titled Another Frightening Show About the Economy explains in easy to understand terms how this all happened. The financial players on Wall Street had essentially placed "bets" in the form of complex financial constructs called Credit Default Swaps. These were placed by the banks against one another making them all interdependent and likely to topple if one fell. These were first conceived as a form of insurance, later used as more or less a bet. There is no regulation of these financial devices, and hence no overall picture of how over leveraged the industry was. Incredibly irresponsible. I highly recommend getting the podcast from their site if you have any interest at all in understanding what just happened to you and me - it is a free download for the first week following the show. Here is a link to their site: http://www.thislife.org/ Or if you are an iTunes user you can subscribe and get the show from there.