Monday, October 13, 2008

Planet Money

Yesterday I was talking to a friend who was panicked about her money situation. Basically, all the talking heads had scared the be-gee-zzers out of her and she was wondering how to open a mattress. She was completely befuddled by my belief that this larger financial mess would change.

She then asked me, “How did this all start?”

My mind crazily flashed sound bites: mortgage mess, Fanny Mae, Freddie Mac, US trade balance imbalances, greed, too much leverage, loose credit, etc, etc.

However, the best answer I could form was: “People made stupid decisions and this mess is the repercussions of those choices.” Which, needless to say, was not very informative nor comforting for my friend.

So I wanted to find some point reference where the tangles of decisions were once wrapped smartly together to form a solid financial system. A time where all we saw was this sturdy fiscal rope which we thought was tied to a immoveable anchor holding our economy in place.

So I turned to NPR. (I know, I know, this paints a real picture of who the person is that types this blog, but I wanted a source that would give me more than sound bites and had discrete information that builds on itself over time.)

Enter Planet Money, NPR’s aptly timed new radio show about this financial crisis. Only about a month old, it started at a time where most reporters spent 15 seconds on the failing bank of the day before moving onto their human interest piece. These radio shows, which I’ve been listening to as podcasts, were explaining not only which bank was failing- but why.

After listening to about half the shows, I’m not sure I could come up with a better answer for my friend. I think that my new knowledge points to many reasons for this financial crisis. We were all looking at that same rope- except it wasn’t tether to an anchor, or anything else really. The rope was just out of sight, obscured by the water trailing shreds of rope that was slowly uncoiling as our economic yacht sailed on.

Whether you’re muddled up by conflicting advice or just scared about this financial crisis, Planet Money is a good way of grounding your fears with objective knowledge about our current situation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Planet money is the most popular podcast on iTunes. And everyone USED to think talking about money was boring!

I love NPR, you aren't alone.