What the hell is a Credit Default Swap?

This American Life's hour-long show on "credit-default swaps" is the best explanation I've heard so far for what the hell these things are and how they ended up causing so much havoc. I keep asking economists, bankers, and finance people what this is all about and while I understood that somehow an exotic, unregulated, non-standardised financial instrument had created trillions in semi-illusory wealth, I just couldn't really understand exactly what that meant. This hour-long audio show does a great job of explaining the technicalities of CDSes, and then delves into their history, regulatory context, and problems, ranging from Congress to bankers to people on the street. Great stuff -- an hour well spent.

Another Frightening Show About the Economy (Thanks, Alan!)