Wednesday, October 8, 2008

So we have a new paper guy...

We get home delivery of the Boston Globe every day. And Adeilson, our former delivery guy was relentless in his consistency.

Once, while getting ready for an early morning flight, I got to see Adeilson in action. He didn’t get out of his car or even pull into the driveway. He actually threw the paper, wrapped in a rubber band, about 60 feet across our lawn and landed the thing within two or three feet of our doormat every time. And I mean every time.

Sadly, Adeilson left a note for us a few months back informing us that he was returning to Brazil to be with his family. We sent him a nice check and told him he would be missed.

And he is.

The new guy is good enough I guess, but he doesn’t hit the doormat like Adeilson did. He usually lands the paper at the top of our driveway which means I have to make a barefoot dash to retrieve it.

And now that the weather of October is here and the driveway is freezing cold I miss Adeilson more and more!

But that’s not the worst part about getting the paper. As a guy in the job market, it’s the front page news of the last month that has been making my Cheerios considerably less cheery.

Every day there’s more bad news about the financial and economic crisis. Usually, I don’t pay too much attention to this kind of thing but I guess that I’m like everyone else in that my savings has been reduced to rubble and I’m not nearly sophisticated enough to understand why.

I mean, I know that financial companies were lending money to people who they shouldn’t have been in the form of sub-prime mortgages and I know that once the housing market declined, the negative value of the defaulted mortgages caused those financial companies to crater. And I also get that the crisis spread across other financial sectors.

What I don’t understand is why they made such huge loans to such high risk borrowers in the first place. And I don’t know why they assumed that the housing market would just go up and up and up forever. I don’t know anything about finance but I know full well that kind of thing is unsustainable.

So if I knew…wtf?

Clearly, a lot of stuff is happening that I don’t understand. And I haven’t found a news source able to take all of the craziness and complexity and explain it very well.

Until now. And in the most unlikely of places.

You are surely aware of This American Life , a long form radio show produced by Chicago Public Radio and hosted by Ira Glass. It’s a really great program and is now available on free podcasts every week.

Back in May, they did a show called The Giant Pool of Money which did a fantastic job of explaining just what the subprime mortgage crisis was all about.

And just last week they did a follow up show called Another Frightening Show About the Economy that attempts to explain all of the crazy financial shit that’s been going on since.

Both programs are excellent. I highly recommend them if you need help getting your mind around all of this.

But be forewarned. You‘ll probably understand things a bit more, but you won’t feel any better about it.

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