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The Banking Crisis in Plain English

Audio

Aired 4/21/09

Want to know how we got in this economic mess? Want to know what kind of trouble America's banks are in? Want to know how to translate finance speak? If you're confused, there's nobody better at clearing the fog than NPR's Adam Davidson. Davidson stops by the studio to explain the status of America's banking system.

Maureen Cavanaugh: A good way to start fixing the economic mess we're in is may be to trace it back to its beginnings. Anyone who's paid attention for the last six months or so has heard about toxic assets, banks too big to fail and sub-prime mortgages.

We've also heard about the blame game between mortgage lenders, home buyers and Wall Street investment firms, each of whom has been accused at one time or another of being the greedy liars who got us into this mess.

But very few people have actually traced the economic meltdown from Wall Street, past Main Street and past Washington, all the way to the global "giant pool of money." That's exactly what NPR's team of Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg did last year in collaboration with PRI's "This American Life" program. The "Giant Pool of Money" segment made a very complex issue understandable and in the process won a Peabody Award.

Guest

Adam Davidson, NPR international business and economics correspondent and editorial director for NPR's multi-media project Planet Money.

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