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…

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Comments (9)
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  • Bryce says:

    While not as fre­quent as Krug­man’s blog, The Beck­er-Pos­ner blog is a great place to read the thoughts of two Nobel prize win­ning econ­o­mists dis­cuss the cur­rent eco­nom­ic cri­sis. You can find it here.

  • Plan­et Mon­ey is so great. For fans of that pod­cast here are three oth­er sol­id, rel­e­vant pod­casts and their links in iTunes (not sure what their site links are):

    A great video pod­cast from Mar­ket­place, called White­board, gives con­cise visu­al descrip­tions of key con­cepts like “cred­it default swaps”:

    A new one from PRI’s the World, called Glob­al Econ­o­my, which is, at its title implies, ded­i­cat­ed to a world per­spec­tive on cur­rent finan­cial issues:

    A prac­ti­cal one from NYTimes, called Your Mon­ey. It’s obvi­ous­ly more per­son­al finance focused, but they make it clear that their goal is to offer advice amid the crazi­ness of the cur­rent macro-cri­sis:

  • Paul Ayres says:

    Nice list with a cou­ple that are new to me, thanks — would also add VOX Talks from

    Not in Itunes but the site has an RSS feed at

    Pro­duced by the Cen­tre for Eco­nom­ic Pol­i­cy Research

  • Nicola Avery says:

    Hi, I’m not say­ing these are all ide­al for fol­low­ing the finan­cial cri­sis, but I start­ed (but nowhere near enough) to com­pile a page­flakes page for ones I was look­ing at dur­ing a recent finan­cial visu­al­iza­tion project:

    Oth­er ones which I have not put in there yet but read every­day are John Kay (on his web­site, sep­a­rate from his FT col­umn), Nathan’s Eco­nom­ic Edge, Any­thing Peace­ful, Econ­Tech,

  • Claude says:

    I’d like to rec­om­mend for its live­ly and infor­ma­tive dis­cus­sions of, well, cred­it mat­ters.

  • Nicola Avery says:

    Hi, apolo­gies, did some re-organ­is­ing yes­ter­day and for­got that I was chang­ing links — page­flakes page is now —
    but the best ones I have found on there are Paul Kedrosky, Paul Wilmott, Tim Har­ford for over­all com­men­tary and dis­cus­sion too.

  • Adam says:

    Cyn­i­cusEc­o­nom­i­cus for fan­tas­tic indepth analy­sis


    — Solve the loan prob­lem.
    — Solve the deriv­a­tive prob­lem.
    — Reassem­ble whole loan mort­gages

    The U.S. econ­o­my is shrink­ing fast, because busi­ness­es can­not get loans that they need to oper­ate nor­mal­ly. Banks and lenders already own $ bil­lions in bad loans, and they are afraid to make new loans. The gov­ern­ment gave $ bil­lions in bailout mon­ey for banks to start lend­ing, but banks hoard the mon­ey to save them­selves.

    Our finan­cial sys­tem became untrust­wor­thy, because it mixed $ bil­lions in bad loans in with the good loans. Now, banks do not trust any of the loans, and the entire cred­it mar­ket stopped work­ing.

    The U.S. econ­o­my will con­tin­ue to shrink until we untan­gle the loans. Once the bad loans are iso­lat­ed, they can be fixed one at a time. Then trust will be restored. Cred­it will flow, and the econ­o­my will grow.

    So far, our gov­ern­ment is spend­ing $ tril­lions on bailouts and pork projects, out of igno­rance and polit­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy. The real solu­tion is much less expen­sive than that.

    The USA has fixed this prob­lem before, and it is not hard to fix again. This is how:

    A) Start with the Res­o­lu­tion Trust Cor­po­ra­tion (RTC), which the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment set­up to solve a Sav­ings and Loan prob­lem in the 1980s.

    B) RTC buys up secu­ri­tized mort­gages and deriv­a­tives to reassem­ble whole mort­gage loans.
    1. “Secu­ri­tized mort­gages” are home loans that have been bun­dled into large groups and sold to investors. A group of about 4,000 mort­gages can be “secu­ri­tized” and sold just like a stock or bond. Investors like to buy groups of mort­gages because they receive all the month­ly house pay­ments.
    2. Some groups of secu­ri­tized mort­gages were sub­di­vid­ed into small­er pieces, called “deriv­a­tives.” How­ev­er, both of the fan­cy names refer to mort­gage loans.
    3. The prob­lem is that many bad loans (with no pay­ments) got mixed in with good loans. That turned the all the secu­ri­tized mort­gages into bad invest­ments, which are ruin­ing our banks. It is a huge prob­lem, and the gov­ern­ment has to fix it, before our econ­o­my will recov­er.
    4. Total secu­ri­tized mort­gage and deriv­a­tive mar­ket is esti­mat­ed at $1.3 Tril­lion by a Pro­fes­sor of Eco­nom­ics at Ohio State Uni­ver­si­ty. (Also see the graph from Deutsche Bank at “The Death of Secu­ri­tized Mort­gages” )
    5. Gov­ern­ment should buy up secu­ri­tized mort­gages and deriv­a­tives at the low­est mar­ket price, which is set via a reverse auc­tion. (Google on “reverse auc­tion”.)
    6. Squat­ters, who sit on their mort­gage deriv­a­tives, in order to extort big $ from the rest of the sys­tem, can be forced to sell. (Law is anal­o­gous to emi­nent domain, or sales forced on cyber­squat­ters that reg­is­tered the domain names of well-estab­lished com­pa­nies.)
    7. Gov­ern­ment pays mort­gage deriv­a­tive squat­ters at mar­ket price set by pre­vi­ous reverse auc­tions, per­haps with a penal­ty to the squat­ters.
    8. Sell­ers give up all rights. No new law there.
    9. Banks, investors, and insur­ers now have cash instead of ques­tion­able mort­gage loans and deriv­a­tives. So, the bank­ing sys­tem is healthy with cash to lend.
    10. Cred­it will flow, and the econ­o­my will grow.

    C) Gov­ern­ment reassem­bles whole loans from secu­ri­tized mort­gage com­po­nents and deriv­a­tives.

    D) Gov­ern­ment sorts the new­ly reassem­bled whole loans (mort­gages) into groups accord­ing to risk/quality.
    1. Gov­ern­ment uses tra­di­tion­al mort­gage experts and guide­lines to sort the home loans into qual­i­ty groups, for exam­ple, a high qual­i­ty group would include home­own­ers with 20% (or more) equi­ty in their house at today’s mar­ket price; and house pay­ments that are 25% (or less) of home­own­ers month­ly income.

    E) Gov­ern­ment (RTC) sells the reassem­bled whole loans to tra­di­tion­al mort­gage banks.
    1. This solves the prob­lem of rene­go­ti­at­ing home loans with home­own­ers. Read on.
    2. Law must be changed so that reassem­bled whole loan mort­gages can­not be secu­ri­tized into deriv­a­tives, again.
    3. An impor­tant pur­pose is to recon­nect each home­own­er with his lender, and vice ver­sa.
    4. It elim­i­nates incen­tive for mort­gage lenders to make preda­to­ry and junk loans. If the loan fails, the lender is stuck with a bad loan.
    5. Gov­ern­ment recov­ers much of the $1.3 Tril­lion pur­chase cost, because gov­ern­ment auc­tions off the reassem­bled mort­gages.
    6. The low­er qual­i­ty, more risky mort­gages would fetch a low­er price at auc­tion.
    7. Mort­gage com­pa­nies, that buy the risky loans, will have more room to nego­ti­ate with the home­own­ers.
    8. Some home­own­er nego­ti­a­tions will not suc­ceed. Those home­own­ers will move into afford­able rentals. (The gov­ern­ment does not owe every­one a free house.)
    9. Oth­er renters would like to buy those emp­ty homes at reduced mar­ket prices.
    10. If the gov­ern­ment gets stuck with some homes, the gov­ern­ment could prof­it by sell­ing the homes when the hous­ing mar­ket recov­ers.

    F) Insur­ers like AIG may be reor­ga­nized through bank­rupt­cy.
    1. Secu­ri­tized mort­gage pools nev­er made busi­ness sense, unless they were pro­tect­ed by var­i­ous insur­ance schemes.
    2. Those insur­ance schemes always were a scam.
    3. Insur­ance only works when most of the insured assets are nev­er hit with a dis­as­ter. That is why flood insur­ance does not work very well. A major flood ruins all the build­ings in a large area, all at the same time. So, the insur­ance com­pa­ny goes broke, and peo­ple that bought the insur­ance are not pro­tect­ed. That is the prob­lem with secu­ri­tized mort­gage insur­ance. In an eco­nom­ic down­turn, the “dis­as­ter” hits all the hous­es at the same time. Secu­ri­tized mort­gage insur­ance was doomed to fail, and the insur­ance com­pa­nies went broke in 2009.
    4. Com­pa­nies that ran the insur­ance scam may have to go through bank­rupt­cy.
    5. Nev­er end­ing gov­ern­ment bailouts for insur­ers like AIG are just throw­ing good mon­ey after bad. So, stop the bailouts.

    This plan is inex­pen­sive, tried and true. It leaves the banks healthy, with cash to lend. It restores trust in the cred­it mar­kets, so loans will be made. It reassem­bles mort­gage deriv­a­tives into whole loans, and restarts tra­di­tion­al mort­gage lend­ing. Peo­ple can get loans to buy homes. Cred­it will flow, and the econ­o­my will grow.*


    *The econ­o­my will grow if Pres­i­dent Obama’s mas­sive tax, bor­row, and spend­ing plans can be stopped, before he cre­ates anoth­er Great Depres­sion. Pres­i­dents Hoover and Roo­sevelt already tried to tax, bor­row and spend their way out of a reces­sion in the 1930s. Instead, they cre­at­ed the Great Depres­sion, which last­ed 12 years. Straight as he goes, Pres­i­dent Oba­ma is doing it, again. Nev­er­the­less, clean­ing up the secu­ri­tized mort­gage mess is a nec­es­sary first step.

    If Pres­i­dent Oba­ma announced Steps 1 and 2, today, the stock mar­ket would go up with­in hours. Investors love a real busi­ness plan, instead of a polit­i­cal pork plan. Mil­lions of peo­ple will be wealth­i­er, feel wealth­i­er, and have more mon­ey to spend. That will jump start the eco­nom­ic recov­ery with­in days.

  • Samuel says:

    Great arti­cle like this require read­ers to think as they read. I took my time when going through the points made in this arti­cle. I agree with much this infor­ma­tion.

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