A Brief Financial Crisis Bibliography (I)

So, for a week now I’ve been meaning to post something about the economic crisis. My google reader is chock-full of juicy tidbits from blogs written by economists, sociologists, political journalists, etc. But everytime I sit down to write up something, 20 new entries flood in and I scramble to keep up. Eventually, by which I mean last night, I abandoned the project of writing up a semi-brief description of the crisis and decided to just create a list of resources that I’ve found useful. I’ve tried to organize them a little bit, we’ll see how it works.

Introduction and Overview:

  • This American Life ep. 355 5/9/08, “The Giant Pool of Money”. An excellent overview of the mortgage crisis, i.e. how this mess started.
  • This American Life ep. 365 10/3/08, “Another Frightening Show About the Economy”. An excellent update, on the credit crisis, the commercial paper market’s collapse, the role of credit default swaps, and the bailout.
  • NPR’s Planet Money Blog. Daily updates on the crisis, with especially close coverage of the bailout.
  • Socializing Finance. A blog on performativity and the sociology of finance. They’ve had a lot of great updates on various issues related to the crisis, from a particularly useful sociology perspective.
  • NYTimes, 10/1/08, As Credit Crisis Spiraled, Alarm Led to Action. A nice narrative of the days surrounding the bailout proposal.
  • CBS News, 10/5/08, A Look At Wall Street’s Shadow Market. A look at how the mortgage crisis spiralled out into a financial crisis through unregulated crisis markets, etc.
  • The Mercury News Interview: Brad DeLong Berkeley economist Brad DeLong gives an interview on how bad it could get.

    And a hilarious video explanation from back in April:

    Causal Stories:

  • Mark Thoma, What Caused the Financial Crisis?. Mark is an economist who blogs prolifically at Economist’s View. He’s one of my favorite semi-liberal but still orthodox economists, along with Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong. In this post, he argues (amongst other things) that Fannie and Freddie’s role has been overstated.
  • Tyler Cowen, My views on the crisis — a summary statement. Another economist, with a bullet-point list of some thoughts on causes and non-causes.
  • FactCheck.org, “Who Caused the Economic Crisis?”. FactCheck is an excellent resource for checking in on how much our politicians are lying to us. In this update, they take on some allegations made in the presidential race, and offer a nice summary at the end of everyone who has been responsible, from the fed, to accounting rules, to real estate agents. Nice, punchy, and with a nice bibliography.
  • Brad DeLong, How Did We Get Here?. Pithy summary of every level that went wrong.

    Specific Topics:

  • Donald MacKenzie, “End of the World Trade”, in the London Review of Books. An explanation of collateralized debt obligations and the importance of liquidity to valuing financial assets.
  • Donald MacKenzie, Broker’s Ear, in the London Review of Books. An explanation of how the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) is calculated. LIBOR is used to measure how bad the credit crisis is. Take LIBOR and subtract the interest rate on treasury bills to get the “TED Spread”, or the perceived riskiness of short-term lending to banks. That spread is economist and columnist Paul Krguman’s favorite measure of the credit crunch. Normally the difference is tiny – a few hundreths of a percent. Lately, it’s been 3 or 4%. So… yeah.
  • Greta Krippner has an interesting paper on central banking in the neoliberal era, “The making of US monetary policy: Central bank transparency and the neoliberal dilemma”. If nothing else, the first 15 pages or so explain how central banks control the interest rate in the clearest way I’ve ever seen. I recommend it.
  • Mark Thoma, Financial Intermediation and the Financial Crisis. Mark gives some basic information on how banking works, and what financial intermediation means and how it helped cause the crisis.

    Ok, off to Econometrics now. Enjoy the materials…


    1. Updates:
      Under causes, Private sector loans, not Fannie or Freddie, triggered crisis. Good run down of how the historical facts and figures do not support a Fannie/Freddie spawned crisis, and indeed FM^2 were more responsible than the investment banks whose unregulated entry into this market seems to have been the real problem. Also, is there any problem Fox News won’t blame on non-whites? “‘I don’t remember a clarion call that said Fannie and Freddie are a disaster. Loaning to minorities and risky folks is a disaster,’ said Neil Cavuto of Fox News.” If there’s one thing we can say about the current crisis, it’s that it was caused by (mostly white, mostly male) capitalists in various places.

    2. Can’t click on the “The Giant Pool of Money” link!

    3. Thanks, typewritten. Problem is fixed.

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