How we got here…

Into this financial mess anyway. I’m fascinated by it, and don’t understand it at all. This American Life did a show breaking it down into terms even Chris Malo can understand. This American Life does a good job of translating everything and providing first-hand accounts and narratives from the industry insiders who participated in the economic collapse. Fascinating.

390: Return To The Giant Pool of Money

In which we mark the anniversary of the economic collapse and the anniversary of Planet Money: recapping some of the original episode, The Giant Pool of Money, and finding out what’s happened to all those guys in the year since.


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. Adam checks back with one of the men he met at that dinner and learns how his views have changed, pretty radically, over the last 18 months. (5 minutes)

Act One. Spring 2008.

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 hear from a mortgage company sales manager who was making over a million dollars a year and spending his time clubbing with celebrities. We meet a man who got into the mortgage industry after getting hired away from his previous job as a bartender. And we follow a Marine who was tricked into an unaffordable mortgage as he tries to save his house from foreclosure. (30 minutes)

Act Two. Fall 2009.

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. (19 minutes)

The previous week’s show are only up for a week, so check it out while you can here.

More podcasts from This American Life about the financial crisis, done in conjunction with Planet Money, here.