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There’s a whole lot happening now in America … bailouts, automaker loans, and an almost trillion-dollar stimulus package. While opinions vary greatly on how to fix the mess, I believe few understand just how we got here.

And surprise, I’m not going to blame George W. Bush, at least not completely.

No, his role was much closer to that of Katrina hitting New Orleans; years of previous government inaction kept levees from being built stronger, inept oversight before and during the storm, and no good plan after the storm hit.

Anyway, for those who want to gain a basic understanding without delving too deep into the minutiae, I’ve listed below a few sources that will give you a good foundation for understanding when you read articles on the different aspects or hear the talking heads try to spin the facts.

First is an excellent “one page” read at the unbiased factcheck.org. You’ll see that neither party has much to brag about as deregulation beginning during the Clinton years gave birth to the lax oversight exponentially grown under the Bush years:

http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/who_caused_the_economic_crisis.html

Next is an excellent PBS Frontline documentary which you can watch online, with an interactive timeline:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meltdown/

Next, we go a little bit deeper with a C-Span talk given by Barry Zigas, former senior vice president at Fannie Mae, who talks about the housing crisis and role of government regulation in financial and housing markets.
http://www.c-spanarchives.org/library/index.php?main_page=product_video_info&products_id=282353-1

Finally, we’ll wrap it up with a tremendous NPR program “the Giant Pool of Money” from Showtime and Chicago Public Radio’s ‘This American Life’ show.

This one really ties it all together by getting to the meat of the problem, the large investors who weren’t happy with the low bond or stock yeilds, and wanted the large payoffs and supposedly “safe” investments that the housing bubble was providing.

In the end, mortgage brokers, banks, Wall Street, bond raters, government officials and even the Federal Reserve all looked the other way as the large profits rolled in from the housing bubble.

Listen online:
http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=355

or right-click on these to download the audio and transcript:
http://webeme.com/giant.pool.of.money.mp3
http://webeme.com/giant_pool_of_money.pdf

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