Blogs & Podcasts for the Financial Crisis

There’s no doubt about it. We’re liv­ing in inter­est­ing times, as the Chi­nese curse goes, and they won’t be going away any time soon. Most of us can’t afford to ignore what’s hap­pen­ing here. So, below, I have high­light­ed a num­ber of blogs and pod­casts that help make intel­li­gent sense of this eco­nom­ic deba­cle. Here they go…

  • Plan­et Mon­ey: NPR is doing a great job of cov­er­ing the unwind­ing glob­al econ­o­my. The Plan­et Mon­ey blog is a good read, and it includes an essen­tial read­ing list. But the accom­pa­ny­ing pod­cast is one that I fol­low reg­u­lar­ly. It’s a must. And it’s gen­er­al­ly enter­tain­ing. You can access it here:  iTunes — Rss FeedWeb Site. (Note: the last episode is not the best exam­ple of what it’s usu­al­ly about.)
  • Econo­Talk: Econ­Talk was vot­ed “Best Pod­cast” in the 2008 Weblog Awards. Host­ed by Russ Roberts (out of George Mason Uni­ver­si­ty), the show “fea­tures one-on-one dis­cus­sions with an eclec­tic mix of authors, pro­fes­sors, Nobel Lau­re­ates, entre­pre­neurs, lead­ers of char­i­ties and busi­ness­es, and peo­ple on the street.” You can access the show via the fol­low­ing chan­nels: iTunesRSS FeedWeb Site.
  • The Base­line Sce­nario: Ded­i­cat­ed to “explain­ing some of the key issues in the glob­al econ­o­my and devel­op­ing con­crete pol­i­cy pro­pos­als,” The Base­line Sce­nario is writ­ten, among oth­ers, by Simon John­son, for­mer chief econ­o­mist of the Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund, who is now a pro­fes­sor at the MIT Sloan School of Man­age­ment. Although rel­a­tive­ly young, the blog has received a fair amount of acclaim as the finan­cial cri­sis has unfold­ed. You may want to par­tic­u­lar­ly check out their col­lec­tion of con­tent called Finan­cial Cri­sis for Begin­ners.
  • Real­time Eco­nom­ic Issues Watch:  Here, senior fel­lows of the Peter­son Insti­tute for Inter­na­tion­al Eco­nom­ics (a think tank based in Wash­ing­ton) “dis­cuss and debate their respons­es to glob­al eco­nom­ic and finan­cial devel­op­ments as they occur each day and offer insights that oth­ers might over­look.”  You will find some of the folks from the Peter­son Insti­tute also appear­ing on the pod­casts and blogs men­tioned else­where on this list. Find the RSS feed here.
  • Econ­o­mists’ Forum: Run by the Finan­cial Times (UK), this blog brings togeth­er a large num­ber of econ­o­mists who offer a run­ning com­men­tary on the state of the frag­ile econ­o­my. The Wall Street Jour­nal has its own real time blog here.
  • New­sHour with Jim Lehrer: The PBS night­ly news pro­gram almost always includes an infor­ma­tive seg­ment ded­i­cat­ed to the finan­cial news of the day. The cov­er­age, which typ­i­cal­ly includes inter­views with experts, is excel­lent. You can down­load the pod­cast here: iTunesFeedWeb Site
  • The Beck­er-Pos­ner Blog: While not updat­ed as fre­quent­ly as Krugman’s blog, The Beck­er-Pos­ner blog is a great place to read the thoughts of two Nobel prize win­ning econ­o­mists (Gary Deck­er and Richard Pos­ner) dis­cuss the cur­rent eco­nom­ic cri­sis. Thanks Bryce for the tip.
  • This Amer­i­can Life: One of NPR’s beloved pro­grams has offered some excel­lent cov­er­age of the finan­cial cri­sis. It start­ed with a show called The Giant Pool of Mon­ey (May 2008), and it has since includ­ed a pro­gram called Anoth­er Fright­en­ing Show about the Econ­o­my (Novem­ber 2008). Now there is a new one called Bad Bank, which explains what’s real­ly hap­pen­ing in the train­wrecks that are banks. These pro­grams were put togeth­er part­ly by mem­bers of the Plan­et Mon­ey pod­cast men­tioned above.

Are we miss­ing some­thing good? Please let us know in the com­ments below…

by | Permalink | Make a Comment ( 9 ) |

The New Kindle and the Audio Book Threat

It took until Feb­ru­ary 26, but I final­ly got my back­o­rdered x‑mas present — the Kin­dle 2 (check it out here). There’s a lot to like about it. It’s thin & light. The screen is very read­able. It holds a ton of books (1500). It down­loaded War & Peace in a mat­ter of sec­onds. The bat­tery life is long. And as for the oth­er good stuff, you can read Wal­ter Moss­berg’s review in The Wall Street Jour­nal.

But noth­ing is per­fect, and I’m under­whelmed by the Kindle’s new text-to-audio func­tion­al­i­ty, which the­o­ret­i­cal­ly turns any book into an instant audio book. The com­put­er­ized voice is rather painful to lis­ten to. The rhythms and into­na­tions are off. The sub­tleties of the human voice just aren’t there.  I doubt that this func­tion­al­i­ty will get much use. But it is not stop­ping the Authors Guild from com­plain­ing.

Ear­li­er this week, Roy Blount Jr., the Guild’s pres­i­dent, wrote an op-ed in the NYTimes (“The Kin­dle Swin­dle”) ques­tion­ing the legal­i­ty of the new fea­ture, and com­plain­ing that it deprives authors of rev­enue from audio book rights. Per­haps some day, when this tech­nol­o­gy dra­mat­i­cal­ly improves, Blount may have a point. But, for now, the Kin­dle does­n’t plau­si­bly pose much threat to com­mer­cial­ly-sold audio books. Indeed, you only need to remem­ber that Ama­zon bought Audi­ble, the largest provider of com­mer­cial audio books in the US, and has already inte­grat­ed Audi­ble into the Kin­dle. (Thanks Gideon for point­ing that out.) Is Ama­zon going to let text-to-voice under­mine its Audi­ble invest­ment? Not a chance. In the mean­time, I should note that you can test out Audi­ble’s ser­vice and down­load two free audio books along the way. Not a bad deal.

by | Permalink | Make a Comment ( 7 ) |

Allan Bloom on YouTube

Allan Bloom, per­haps best remem­bered for his con­tro­ver­sial best­seller The Clos­ing of the Amer­i­can Mind, spent his career study­ing and lec­tur­ing on the great books, writ­ing exten­sive­ly on Pla­to, Shake­speare, Rousseau, Hegel and oth­ers. Per­haps not ter­ri­bly sur­pris­ing­ly, some of his lec­tures have popped up on YouTube. (What does­n’t even­tu­al­ly pop up there?) The lec­tures are actu­al­ly audio record­ings with some pho­tos mixed in, and above we’ve post­ed the first in a series of lec­tures on Pla­to’s Apol­o­gy. The rest of the Pla­to lec­tures can be found here. The gen­er­al col­lec­tion is here. And remem­ber, you can get hun­dreds of free uni­ver­si­ty course here.

Via The Dai­ly Dish

Public Radio on the iPhone

Here’s a quick fyi for iPhone users: The Pub­lic Radio Tuner, a free app avail­able on iTunes, gives you (free) access to hun­dreds of pub­lic radio streams from across the US. Released in late Jan­u­ary, the Tuner brings togeth­er feeds from NPR, Amer­i­can Pub­lic Media, and PRI, among oth­ers. This is a handy way to lis­ten wire­less­ly to local news and cul­tur­al pro­gram­ming, plus many well-known shows (All Things Con­sid­ered, Fresh Air, Car Talk, etc.) So far, the app works like a charm. You can down­load it here, or vis­it this web site to learn more about this new ini­tia­tive.

Last­ly, if you don’t have an iPhone, then this page does a good job of aggre­gat­ing pub­lic radio feeds, and you can always lis­ten to them as pod­casts on your com­put­er or mp3 play­er. Def­i­nite­ly worth a look…

by | Permalink | Make a Comment ( 1 ) |

Newspaper Front Pages from Across the World

What’s the main news sto­ry of the day? It depends on where you live.

New­se­um has a handy web page that let’s you visu­al­ly scan the front page of over 700 news­pa­pers across 80 coun­tries. Open this web page, click on a con­ti­nent, then click on a dot with­in a par­tic­u­lar geo­graph­ic area, and you’ll see what an indi­vid­ual paper thinks mat­ters most today, tomor­row and the next day. It’s a pret­ty handy tool.

Sad­ly, as I looked at these maps, I could­n’t help but won­der (giv­en the state of news­pa­per busi­ness) how many of these dots will dis­ap­pear over time. Or, as my col­league put it, how long is it before the news­pa­per, as we know it, becomes an actu­al rel­ic of a muse­um. “New­se­um” may real­ly become a new­se­um.

If you want to track the grim demise of the print indus­try, you can fol­low The Media is Dying on Twit­ter. On an hour-to-hour basis, it records the grim unwind­ing of var­i­ous news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines. And, while you’re at it, you can fol­low our Twit­ter feed here, too. It’s a hap­pi­er feed, I promise.

Thanks Denise for the heads up on this one. Got a cool piece of cul­tur­al media? Send it our way.

by | Permalink | Make a Comment ( 3 ) |

The American Future

Through his books and doc­u­men­taries, Simon Schama, a British born his­to­ri­an, has cov­ered a lot of fer­tile ground. The French Rev­o­lu­tion, the slave trade, the pow­er of art, Rem­brandt, ear­ly mod­ern Dutch cul­ture, the his­to­ry of Britain — Schama has cov­ered it all. And now he has pulled a Toc­queville on us. He spent the bet­ter part of a year trav­el­ing across Amer­i­ca, siz­ing it up, and pro­duc­ing a lengthy TV doc­u­men­tary (now avail­able on DVD) and a relat­ed book (not avail­able in the US yet) called The Amer­i­can Future: A His­to­ry. His analy­sis of Amer­i­ca, of its past and its future, takes into account sev­er­al major themes: reli­gion, immi­gra­tion, land and resources, and war. In this recent con­ver­sa­tion with Bill Moy­ers, Schama talks at length about Amer­i­ca and where it finds itself today. The first 15 min­utes focus on Oba­ma and the chal­lenges he faces. The remain­ing part gets into themes dis­cussed in The Amer­i­can Future. You can access it here: iTunesFeedWeb Site.

P.S. I am real­ly sor­ry about the frus­trat­ing down­time this morn­ing. My host­ing ser­vice — Dreamhost — had some “issues.” Hope­ful­ly this was an excep­tion.

If Life Were Only Like This …

Some­how my mind turned back today to this clas­sic scene from Annie Hall — Woody Allen’s 1977 Acad­e­my Award­ing-win­ning film. The scene fea­tures Woody, Diane Keaton, and a cameo by Mar­shall McLuhan, who gave us media the­o­ry and the expres­sion “the medi­um is the mes­sage.” The bit is always good for a laugh.

by | Permalink | Make a Comment ( 1 ) |

Stanford Online Writing Courses — The Spring Lineup

A quick fyi: This morn­ing, Stan­ford Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies opened up reg­is­tra­tion for its spring line­up of online writ­ing cours­es. Offered in part­ner­ship with the Stan­ford Cre­ative Writ­ing Pro­gram (one of the most dis­tin­guished writ­ing pro­grams in the coun­try), these online cours­es give begin­ning and advanced writ­ers, no mat­ter where they live, the chance to refine their craft with gift­ed writ­ing instruc­tors.

As you will see, there are a cou­ple of cours­es offered in con­junc­tion with The New York Times. The idea here is that you’ll learn writ­ing from a Stan­ford  writ­ing instruc­tor and then get your work reviewed by a Times book crit­ic. Quite a perk, I must say.

For more infor­ma­tion, click here, or sep­a­rate­ly check out the FAQ.

Caveat emp­tor: These class­es are not free, and I helped set them up. So while I whole­heart­ed­ly believe in these cours­es, you can take my views with a grain of salt.

by | Permalink | Make a Comment ( 3 ) |

More in this category... »
Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.