At Forte Financial Glenbrook Partners we’ve been gripped by the credit crisis, yet drowning in news and data. We suspect that you, too, would appreciate a guide to the gems of insight and plainspoken verbiage that explain, question, and illuminate these unprecedented times. So we’ve selected the best of the coverage – an admittedly subjective process – and provided links here.

Please suggest additional links via comments – or if you are shy, send us an email. We’ll update the list as we receive your suggestions and more noteworthy stories are published.

(scroll down to view each section)

  • Finance Fundamentals
  • Graphs, Charts & Interactive Features
  • Causes
  • Effects
  • Social Impact
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Debating Detroit’s Woes
  • Best of the Bloggers
  • Special Features
  • Most Irreverent Headline Award



A Layman’s Financial Glossary
(updated regularly) – BBC
A guide to the arcane terminology and confusing jargon commonly found (and occasionally misused) in the media, all over the blogosphere, and at the water cooler.

The Freakonomics Blog
09/18/2008 – FAQs About Lehman and A.I.G. (Part 1)
10/15/2008 – Everything You Need to Know About the Financial Crisis (Part 2)
Two University of Chicago economics professors Doug Diamond and Anil Kashyap address questions in the midst of the financial crisis; a bit more academic than some of the other links in this section but still easy to follow.

Can’t Grasp Credit Crisis? Join the Club
03/19/2008 – The New York Times
This may not be comforting, but your confusion is shared by many people in the middle of this financial crisis. Here’s a simple explanation.

Marketplace Whiteboard [VIDEO]
10/13/2008 – Marketplace Radio
In these excellent videos Marketplace Senior Editor Paddy Hirsch describes financial crisis concepts in lay terms annotated with whiteboard diagrams. Don’t miss the one where he uses an Antarctic expedition analogy to explain how banks have gotten frozen in their tracks, awaiting a rescue.

NPR’s This American Life [AUDIO + transcript]
05/09/2008 – The Giant Pool of Money (original show)
10/03/2008 – Another Frightening Show About the Economy (follow up)
A special program about the housing crisis produced by This American Life in collaboration with NPR News back in May 2008. What does the housing crisis have to do with the turmoil on Wall Street? Why did banks make half-million dollar loans to people without jobs or income? And why is everyone talking so much about the 1930s? It all comes back to the Giant Pool of Money. (An equally excellent follow up show aired in early October, right in the midst of the crisis.)

Financial / Economic Crisis Explained
How Can A few bad mortgages in the suburbs of Florida lead to the Bankruptcy of a country like Iceland? What has caused the stock market to fall by 40% -the worst decline since the Great Depression? And why has the credit crunch pushed the global economy into recession? A concise explanation from a young Economics instructor in Oxford, England. See related series of essays here.

Videos to Help Understand the Bailout
Series of 16 short (10-12 min) YouTube videos from Kahn Academy on key bailout topics, such as Systemic Risk, Moral Hazard, book value vs. market value, mark-to-model vs. mark-to-market. Best if viewed in order, as they build upon one another.

Everything We Learned about the Financial Crisis, Again
12/11/2008 –
“The nation’s top accounting guru gets back to basics with a list of financial lessons we must remember not to forget”. Everything you already knew about the financial crisis, but were afraid to remember.

A Short History of Modern Finance
10/16/2008 – The Economist
This piece in the Economist provides historical context for the recent market gyrations.

Economic View – Finding the Mess Behind the Mess
08/23/2008 – The New York Times
A down the rabbit hole explanation of credit crisis – “the fundamental problem in the American economy is that, for years, people treated rising asset prices as a substitute for personal savings.” Published back in August, but still contains relevant information.

An educational resource for teachers on the Federal Reserve System and economic education.

A Financial Crisis Reading List
October 2008 – Books for Understanding
Featuring general interest as well as special interest (seriously academic) titles from university publishers.


We’re suckers for information graphics here at ForteBlog. Here are some of our favorites inspired by the financial crisis.

10 Weeks of Financial Turmoil
09/27/2008 – The New York Times
A look at the recent events that shook the world’s financial system.

Timeline: Crisis on Wall Street
12/12/2008 – Washington Post (updated periodically)
Provides a financial time line from September 7th, 2008 stopping on days of significance.

Not Since the 30s
01/02/2009 – New York Times
The S&P 500 stock index fell more in 2008 than at any time since 1937. Plus, 2008 was also one of the most volatile for the index.

Tracking the $700 Billion Bailout
The New York Times (updated as necessary)
Dozens of banks and a handful of insurers have applied for funds from the Treasury Department as part of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. The Treasury Department has transferred capital to many of these companies. More are expected to announce their participation in the coming weeks.

Credit Crisis Indicators
The New York Times (updated daily)
Five ways to measure the recent disruptions in the credit markets: 3-mo Treasury, Libor, TED spread, 30-day Commercial Paper, High-Yield Bonds

How the Credit Crisis Unfolded
10/07/2008 – The New York Times
The extent of the credit crisis that unfolded from the morning of Sept. 17 to the afternoon of Sept. 18. was unseen to the public but spooked policy makers into action.

The Fallen Giants of Finance
12/22/2008 – The Financial Times
A look at the decisions and mistakes of some of the key players in the financial crisis – and their chances of coming back.

Bank Street
10/10/2008 – The Financial Times
Follow the fortunes of some of the world’s largest banks as they navigate the global financial crisis

Federal Lending Program Reference Guide
Dec 2008 – Federal Reserve of NY
Confused by the various Fed lending programs for banks? Here’s a handy quick reference guide from the Fed Reserve of NY.

Bailout Scorecard – Who, How Much, How Effective?
11/26/2008 – WSJ MarketBeat Blog
The matrix summarizes who was bailed out, describes the program, why, who was helped, who paid, and – most importantly – is it working?

Home Prices in Selected Cities Through September ’08
10/28/2008 – New York Times
If you are a homeowner you may not want to look at this graphic showing YOY change in home prices using monthly data from S&P/Case-Shiller.


Wall Street Lays Another Egg
Dec 2008 – Vanity Fair
Not so long ago, the dollar stood for a sum of gold, and bankers knew the people they lent to. Niall Ferguson charts the emergence of an abstract, even absurd world—call it Planet Finance—where mathematical models ignored both history and human nature, and value had no meaning.

The End
Dec 2008 – Portfolio Magazine
The era that defined Wall Street is finally, officially over. Michael Lewis, who chronicled its excess in Liar’s Poker, returns to his old haunt to figure out what went wrong.

Risk Mismanagement
01/01/2009 – New York Times Magazine
The great housing-fueled market bubble couldn’t burst, could it? The best Wall Street minds and their best risk-management tools failed to see the crash coming. Were the measures used to evaluate Wall Street trades flawed? Or was the mistake ignoring them? Joe Nocera explores these questions and more.

The End of the Financial World as We Know It (Part 1)
How to Repair a Broken Financial World (Part 2)
01/04/2009 – The New York Times
Misaligned interests throughout the financial eco-system contribute to a systemic problem: short-term gain vs. long-term interests, a complete lack of meaningful checks and balances (via credit rating agencies), and incompetence and political pandering at the SEC.

The Beautiful Machine (Part 1)
A Crack in the System (Part 2)
Downgrades and Downfall (Part 3)
(Dec 28-29-30, 2008) The Washington Post
A series of three articles detailing the history of AIG’s Financial Products division and how it brought down the venerable (and surprisingly vulnerable) international insurance firm.

Myths about the Financial Crisis of 2008
The Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has published a short working paper demonstrating that four widely-held beliefs about the financial crisis of 2008 are false. (Beware, this is pretty wonky.)


Commentators on Charlie Rose
(various dates) – Charlie Rose, PBS
Bite-sized Segments on the Financial Crisis – featuring (so far) Ted Forstmann, Paul Krugman, Hank Paulson, Sheila Bair, Alan Greenberg, Nouriel Roubini, Nancy Pelosi, Paul Volcker, Warren Buffet, Floyd Norris, Barney Frank, and Larry Summers in conversation with PBS’s Charlie Rose.

Rough Week, But America’s Era Goes On
09/21/2008 – Washington Post
Niall Ferguson explores the geopolitical consequences of the credit crunch.

Desperately Seeking a Cash Cure – Capital Markets
11/24/2008 –
More news on cash strapped firms, what some are doing and with evidence of recession in foreign markets there is suggestion that recession has arrived in U.S. (and has been here awhile).

Waiving or drowning?  Even big firms are finding it tough to secure credit from the banks
12/04/2008 – The Economist
More analysis on large companies and short term credit issues.  Most can survive for at least 12 months

U.S. Loses 533,000 Jobs in Biggest Drop Since 1974
12/05/2008 – The New York Times
Reaction and summary to latest report from BLS

Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary
11/21/2008 – Bureau of Labor Statistics
Latest report from BLS, the grim truth.

Financial crises, past and present
Dec 2008 – McKinsey Quarterly
Past financial crises had very different effects on the real economy. Although the lessons of the past don’t give much cause for optimism, they do provide hints on how companies should prepare this time around.

Is the Jobs Panic Justified?
12/10/2008 –
Great information and discussion of how the outlook varies depending on who is doing the forecasting.

Finance: The Changes to Come
12/11/2008 –
Standard & Poor’s details some of the shifts in markets and regulation that investors can expect as the smoke clears from the financial crisis

When It Seemed Things Couldn’t Get Worse …
12/05/2008 –
A year in review from American Banker of this year’s fall of some of the largest banks, and those banks that benefited at the expense of the others.  How it all unfolded and what can we expect.

The U.S. Financial Crisis: The Global Dimension
11/25/2008 – Congressional Research Services
This paper prepared for congress explains the global impact of the financial crisis and explores implications for U.S. policy.

Citigroup: You Can’t Step Into the Same Crisis Twice, Right?
11/21/2008 – Wall Street Journal
Good information on the Citi bailout and how it was handled differently than other firms such as Bear and Lehman.

Missing the Target With $700 Billion
12/21/2008 – New York Times
Why isn’t the Treasury Department spending the $700 billion bailout to rescue mortgages?

Economy at a Glance
US Bureau of Labor Statistics (updated regularly)

U.S. Economic Indicators
US Dept of Commerce Statistics (updated regularly)


‘Peer’ Loans Ease Credit Crunch
12/06/2008 –
Borrowers in this slumping economy say the peer-to-peer loans are more accessible and organized than ever before.  Those who can’t get loans from traditional sources, may choose this organized method of getting loans from family or friends, with an impartial middle man.

From Wall Street to Main Street: Understanding How the Credit Crisis Affects You
10/03/2008 – U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee Majority Staff

The Money Map [AUDIO with transcript]
(various dates) – NPR’s Morning Edition
In this occasional series on NPR’s Morning Edition, reporters around the country examine how global economic forces are shaping the economy in some of America’s hometowns.

Days of Open Wallet
10/11/2008 – The Economist
“Barack Obama is promising a vast new public-works programme as his solution to America’s economic woes”.  What public works projects are the most likely, and how the program attempts to fix the economic woes the current administration leaves behind.

2008: The Year of Living Cheaply
10/10/2008 –
From ditching their cable subscriptions to opting for “staycations,” many Americans found ways to cut back during the past year.  More than likely, the next year may be more of the same.

Who Cared About Risk?
10/21/2008 – Floyd Norris Blog,
A brief example of how one University risked heavily and lost.

Job Cuts Hurt Headhunters, Too
10/10/2008 –
Recruiting firm Korn/Ferry blames its declining results on the financial crisis.  When economy is down, and unemployment up
, staffing firms have the same challenges that face other business’s; inventory that isn’t moving.

Better Collection Policies Are Past Due For Many
11/23/2008 – Wall Street Journal
An informative article on AP and AR, and what small businesses face in terms of next quarters collections. There are suggestions here for preventing collection problems.


As Credit Crisis Spiraled, Alarm Led to Action
10/02/2008 – New York Times
During a 36-hour period in mid-September, the fissures opening in the worldwide financial system convinced policy makers that they needed to act quickly. Much more in the NYTimes “The Reckoning” series exploring the cause of the financial crisis here.

Drama Behind a $250 Billion Banking Deal
10/15/2008 – New York Times
The Treasury secretary gave little choice to nine major banks but to sell shares to the government – three and a half hours of high drama and brief conflict on October 13, 2008.

Compleat UberNerd guide to Mortgage Industry
by the late Doris “Tanta” Dungey at Calculated Risk
This is a series of really, really detailed but highly informative posts about the mortgage industry and the root cause of the financial crisis. Tanta was an influential figure online as the financial crisis played out.

U.S. Sets Plan to Help Citi Weather Losses
11/24/2008 –  New York Times Dealbook Blog
Exactly what regulators approved for Citi and an outline of how the U.S. government will now be a preferred stock holder.


Bracing for What’s Next as Auto Bail Out Fails
12/12/2008 – New York Times Dealbook Blog
Uh Oh, now what?  Love it or hate it, the hammer has come down.  What is Detroit to do?  Finally fix that stubborn attitude?  Adjust?  There are no simple solutions to the problems the big three are about to face.

Detroit Needs a Selloff, Not a Bailout
11/27/2008 – The Brookings Institute
In the Wall Street Journal the Brookings Institute offers tough advice for the automotive industry.

Auto Bailout Hung Up in the Senate
12/10/2008 –
Some Republicans staunchly oppose handing billions of dollars to the car companies, regardless of how much power a “car czar” is given.


Our favorite blog coverage:


Most of the major media outlets have special reports or compilations of their ongoing financial crisis coverage.


Bloomberg News gets a special mention for its remarkably timely coverage with rapid updates, but also for its occasionally winsome headlines, such as Erin’s all time favorite: Bernanke Plays `Whac-A-Mole’ With Turmoil in Markets


Did we miss something?
Please submit suggestions in the comments or via email.


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