Then I spent most of my evening attempting to get up to speed on the financial crisis. In talking to my normally well-informed peers over the last week or so, none of us has much of an idea of what to think. Not surprising, since there are a lot of moving parts in both the problem and the potential solutions, some of which are contained inside black boxes. But I do feel like my evening of browsing gave me a better sense of things, so I share the following recommendations:
- First, be glad we aren't in as tight a spot as Iceland, which faces similar root problems but has much less room to maneuver. Also, who knew that the housing bubble in Britain was even bigger than the one here? (Not I, in any case.) That means they're facing big problems in the UK, too.
- You really should take the time to check out the widely-recommended This American Life piece from last May entitled The Giant Pool of Money, which brings their formidable storytelling skills to bear on the causes of the subprime mortgage crisis and why it has had such a broad impact. The follow-up on more recent developments, entitled (ahem) Another Frightening Show About the Economy, is also extremely helpful in clarifying what exactly we're talking about, and in scaring the bejeezus out of you.
- You should follow those up with this soothing Charlie Rose interview with Warren Buffet from last Wednesday. (In which he repeats his admirable demand that we increase his low tax rate.)
A side note: These are high times for metaphors. The stuff we're being asked to think about is so intangible and beyond our detailed comprehension that everyone is resorting to metaphor and simile to try to explain it. I've been thinking that I should start a blog, titled something to the effect of "Citizens for the Responsible Use of Metaphor," which would point out/discuss particularly effective or ineffective examples of figurative language. If you have any ideas for how to make such a blog not be as boring as watching paint dry, let me know...