House of Cards

Another Frightening Show About the Economy

Another Frightening Show About the Economy

I’ve become increasingly intrigued by the current financial crisis – in honesty, much of this stems from conversations with others who’ve got me thinking more than I had been.  Aside from knowing that a lot of major business and financial institutions were struggling mightily, I didn’t really know (or care) what the big deal was.

Then my dad mentioned a really good piece on This American Life – a show that I’ve listened to once or twice and that my brother always highly recommends – so I figured I’d give it another go.  The first piece he mentioned was actually a sort of follow-up to an earlier piece and I figured (as is my wont) that it’d play better in chronological order (I’m sort of neurotic that way)… and to that end I’m actually going to link to the earlier piece first.

The first piece was entitled Giant Pool of Money, and gave a really good explanation of just what was going on; it was done in a very accessible manner, without being overly technical and I found it eminently understandable (and I don’t think that has anything to do with my math background – the hosts are great).  So I got some insight into what was going on, it was a bit unsettling, but rather upbeat at the end.  I returned home, talked it over with my dad, and was a bit surprised to find that he didn’t feel as upbeat as I did.  Then it dawned on me…  I’d only listened to the first part, from back in May!

Back to TAL… now the episode is titled Another Frightening Show About the Economy, and I think it lives up to its billing.  It again is really lucid and fills in a lot that has changed since the first show — most importantly, what’s gone wrong and how it’s shaken some of the best and brightest in the financial world.  I think another thing that I find amazing about these shows (both of them) is how they can at the very same time sound so exquisitely sobering and yet full of dry wit.

Frightening, yes; but I continue to remain hopeful.  What else is there to do?  Things are tied together in a way that makes escape from a collapse seem nigh to impossible…   Is the bailout a wise course of action?  I leave it to better, more informed minds to determine.  I think it’s a telling point that one of those “more informed” types quoted on the show made an about face on this point after watching the current state of affairs grow more and more bleak.

The one bright side, if it can be called that, for me is that we’ve been too tight for the past 5 or 6 years to have any presence in the stock market (besides a small 401(k) type deal — so at least I didn’t take a bath (metaphorically speaking).  😉

And I can’t recommend TAL highly enough – after enjoying those shows so very thoroughly, I found myself bingeing on whatever I could find.  A few that I really liked:

  • Act V (a piece on convicts performing Shakespeare… fascinating and entertaining)
  • A Better Mousetrap (stories about people trying to find new solutions to age-old problems)
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2 Responses to “House of Cards”

  1. I try to convince everyone I know to listen to TAL. If you’re not to sick of election coverage, their recent (this Sunday) episode about Pennsylvania is wonderful–particularly the section about the union workers.

    But what I wanted to ask is if you’ve moved over to the Planet Money podcast (http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/) which is Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg (the guys from The Giant Pool of Money) and a few others doing a daily 12-30 minute podcast where they try to continue to explain the financial crisis.

    Thanks–I came over from Girl Detective.

  2. yikes! has it really been that long since your reply, Kate? I’ve allowed myself to be swept away by the day-to-day and apologize for never responding sooner. (in fact, I’d be surprised if you even see my response now — nevertheless I will remain hopeful!)

    I hadn’t moved over to the Planet Money podcast but I will do so ASAP — now that I’m between semesters, it’s an excellent time for me to dabble in things I don’t normally manage to work into my schedule.

    Thanks for the suggestion!!!

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