Toxie — a “toxic asset” purchased by NPR’s Planet Money program, and dissected and discussed over the last few months — has finally died. For those unfamiliar with the series, NPR has a personal finance show, which bought a $500 “toxic asset” during the massive post-crash dump.
As an liberal artsy English-French major, my understanding of most financial instruments was cursory. Like many, I had a grasp of basic macro- and microeconomics, but was not well-versed at all in the world of high finance and the like.
With the financial world collapsing around us, it seemed like a good time to bone up on my knowledge of such topics, and one story that helped was Planet Money‘s series on “Toxie.” They tracked the mortgages contained within, finding out what happened to the people behind the asset, as well as the long-reaching effects of the assets themselves. If you click on the above link, you can hear the stories from the beginning, which I found useful in a different way than, say Too Big To Fail or The Big Short.
Similarly, for those wondering why toxic assets went so bad, check out this post from a few months back on Marginal Revolution. The small differences in the risk of failure in individual homes makes the overall risk much higher, turning a seemingly safe investment into an unsafe one in a hurry.