A few years back, Bill Cotter was a rare book binder who decided to get into the rare book selling business. To do this, he financed his business on a bunch of low-interest credit cards.
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Former Bush Administration official David Frum explains a very surprising fact about Bush's economic failure, as it relates to health care. Frum is a regular contributor to the radio show Marketplace.
Host Ira Glass talks with NPR correspondent Adam Davidson about a black tie event he attended in the spring of 2008. The event was an awards dinner for finance professionals who created the mortgage-based financial instruments that nearly brought down the global economic system.
We replay sections from the original "Giant Pool of Money," in which This American Life producer Alex Blumberg teams up with NPR's Adam Davidson to tell the story of how the U.S. got itself into a housing crisis. They talk to people who were actually working in the housing, banking, finance and mortgage industries, about what they thought during the boom times, and why the bust happened.
We catch back up with the people we met in 2008, to see how they've fared over the last 18 months. We talk to Clarence Nathan, who in 2008 received a half million dollar loan that he said he wouldn't have given himself; Jim Finkel, a Wall Street finance guy, who put together and managed complicated mortgage-based financial securities; Richard Campbell, the Marine who was facing foreclosure; and Glen Pizzolorusso, the mortgage company sales manager who led the life of a b-list celebrity.
Planet Money's Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson talk to Ira about the lawsuit phase of the economic crisis, and the ongoing search to find someone to take the blame. So far at least 196 lawsuits are simply banks suing other banks.
Host Ira Glass talks with Michael Perrino, a law professor at St Johns University School of Law in New York, who wrote a book about Ferdinand Pecora called The Hellhound of Wall Street. Pecora was the lead attorney in the Senate Banking Committee hearings in the 1930s looking into wrongdoing in the banking industry.
Planet Money reporter Chana Joffe-Walt asks a simple question: Who was the federal regulator who was supposed to be regulating AIG? The answer turns out to be far from simple.
Alex Blumberg and NPR correspondent (and "Planet Money" reporter) Dave Kestenbaum examine what went wrong with the credit ratings agencies. When all these financial instruments that brought down our economy—the mortgage backed securities, the derivatives—were originally issued, the rating agencies (Standard and Poors, Moody's and Fitch) gave many of these things their top rating of triple-A.
Reporter Chris Arnold visits a foreclosure prevention event to find out the painful truth about the mortgage crisis: 90% of foreclosures are being enforced by servicing companies not because it helps the banks to foreclose, and not because home owners aren't interested in renegotiating their loan terms, but because there's just no system in place to handle the sheer volume of loans that need help.
Host Ira Glass notes the sub-industry in journalism right now of reporting anything that looks like a sign of the recession. He then goes on to list a handful of his own favorites, including a dentist who's seen an increase in broken teeth from grinding, and a decrease in shark attacks.
Ira goes to Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood to talk to some condo owners who are in a precarious situation—since the housing market crash, the developer who renovated and sold them their units—Haso Meseljevic—has all but disappeared. He's in foreclosure on half of their building's units.
NPR reporter and Planet Money contributor Chana Jaffe-Walt reports this story of what it really looks like when a bank fails and is taken over by the FDIC. She talks to the former employees and a handful of FDIC staff about the Friday night when the Bank of Clark County was interrupted and closed by 80 FDIC employees, who had every step of their secret operation down to a science.
For NPR's Adam Davidson, dropping out of college is the worst thing any young person can do in this economy. So when Adam's favorite cousin DJ does just that, Adam brings in a professor of economics from Georgetown University to help persuade DJ to get back on the right track.
Host Ira Glass plays clips from TV in a recent senate hearing and talks about how confusing the current banking crisis is. But fortunately today, we have the team that brought us our show that explained the mortgage crisis a year ago, back to explain entire the banking system in 40 minutes.
Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson tackle a very tough subject: Trying to explain exactly what a bank is and does. They talk to a number of experts about what has gone wrong in banking, but not before bringing us all up to speed on some banking basics, like understanding a bank balance sheet, and a bank's assets and liabilities, and the squishy business of what banks say about their balance sheets compared to what they are.Alex and Adam walk us step by step through the complications of the US government buying up bad assets from banks, and explain why, when it comes to footing the bill, the government might just prefer to not be in charge of the very banks it is having taxpayers bailout.
Not everyone hates the idea of "toxic assets." Reporter Lisa Chow goes to New Jersey to follow two guys on their quest to clean up some of America's bad mortgages—by buying them, and going straight to the homes themselves to have a look at how dire the situation really is.
Our crack economics duo, Producer Alex Blumberg and NPR International Economics Correspondent Adam Davidson, on how a dead, slutty, elitist British man, John Maynard Keynes, is about to take over the American economy. President Obama's new stimulus plan relies on Keynes'; theory, which says that government can spend its way out of a downward economic spiral.