You might be living under a rock if you are unaware of all the financial woes of the last year. It is hard to find someone who is not directly affected (or has a friend/family member affected) by unemployment, housing issues, or a loss in the stock market. But even if you are aware, do you really understand what’s going on and how we got into (some of) this mess? The folks at NPR‘s This American Life have boiled down some of the issues and done a superb job of making very complicated systems understandable.
I recommend two episodes in particular. The first is an explanation of the housing/mortgage crisis (The Giant Pool of Money, May 2008) and the second is an explanation of the collapse of the banking system (Bad Bank, Feb 2009). Each episode is 60 minutes (well worth the time) but you can also download a transcript to read at your leisure.