The Crisis of Credit Visualized by Jonathan Jarvis

Picture 14-2

Peter Lunenfeld says:

Thought Boing-Boingers might like this info-viz on the mortgage meltdown, which one of my former grad students (Jonathan Jarvis) at Art Center just released.

I love it when talented designers use their skills in the public sphere. The HD version (which takes a few minutes to load) is worth the extra time.


  1. That video is pretty well done and entertaining.

    I think the part explaining the principle of “leverage” not really necessary in the overall context.

    A million dollars for the guy posting an equally nice video-solution to this problem. Anyone!?


  2. Just saw this on NOTCOT…

    I finally get it!!!

    Greedy bastards wanting more money despite the consequences.

    Can we please also explain to the people that the Federal Income tax is Illegal while we are on the topic of money??

    K thx

  3. @Zawan I think you mean unconstitutional, not illegal, and either way that’s a hell of a battle to fight.

    This video was pretty great! I like how all the blame is hinted at, but it appears to have been made with a conscious effort to not fault individual elements but point out instead a rather systemic failure.

  4. @boy I think if you take my money and say it is yours when there is no law saying so, it is illegal as well unconstitutional.

    Also, the blame was pretty squarely laid on people’s greed. If everyone didn’t try and make their pockets fatter we would not be in this mess.

    Capitalism on steroids = Economy with roid rage and shrunken testicles.

  5. If everyone didn’t try and make their pockets fatter we would not be in this mess.

    Not everyone. Just all the greedy people.

    If we bail the irresponsible people out out of this I expect to be rewarded for my responsibility. Once I found out that I qualified for a preposterous mortgage I started my personal planning for this mess.

  6. Alternative viewpoint to blaming greed (which you couldn’t stop anyway) is that part of why we expect capitalism to work is that there’s nothing necessarily wrong with greed, as long as there’s honesty or transparency. If no one wants more than they have, the economy stalls also.

    The problem came when they were allowed to make horrible deals and shuffle them into the AAA stuff (Something the video could elaborate on as well).

    The system before the sub-prime was stable. Even with sub-prime deals, it was sustainable as long as there were no bumps in the road.

    When the agency that rates risk does its job when everything seems fine, they’ll come under fire for ‘slowing down the economy’ and businessmen will push for less regulation and oversight. By this argument, we wouldn’t have a problem if we stayed the course with regulation.

    Possibly, even if we had, they businessmen would have found new playgrounds where regulation didn’t exist yet, shifting the argument to not creating “more” regulation (which really would have just been the same regulation growing with the market). Even if we kept up growth, they might have invented new unregulated tools fast enough to cause the same problem. I don’t know anything about what the actual outcomes might have been. Maybe we could have avoided this, maybe not.

    Here’s a question I’ve never seen asked: Depending on how long we take to recover, where would we be relative to what the market would have grown like with enough regulation to avoid the problem? Is it possible that we come out ahead even WITH the collapse? I don’t think it’s likely, but I am curious. I’m sure graphs of past recessions have a reasonable answer, I’ll go look…

  7. Billmon explains it very well in this diary at Kos

    Chocolate Covered Cotton

    The chocolate covered cotton is a reference to J. Heller’s Catch-22

    “But to understand why Big Shitpile is just that – with hardly any ponies hidden at the bottom for eager prospectors to dig up – it worth taking a look at how the stinking heap was created in the first place. As it turns out, I’ve been spending much of my professional time lately studying what happened in the credit markets during the bubble years, so I think I have a slightly better grasp than I did at the time, when I only thought it would lead to a nasty financial crisis, as opposed to Great Depression II.”

    “The broad story is well known, even to the cable TV pinheads: Housing Bubble + Subprime Mortgage Lending + Derivatives = Armageddon. (The numerical illiterates at Fox News would probably add ACORN to that equation.) But even now I’m not sure if many people fully understand just how insanely reckless the carnival was, to the point where future historians will speak of “structured finance” in much the same the way we talk about the bubonic plague.”

    It’s the same old story, industry privatizing profits but socializing the loss. It’s unclear to me how we start the economy again since we don’t really have one.

  8. In addition to greed, there’s wishful thinking:

    * “Condo flipping rocks! The housing market will always grow!”

    * “I believe that nice salesperson when he said I really could afford this mortgage and I shouldn’t worry about the rate going up because I can refinance.”

    * “Hey, I found another way to subvert the fiscal soundness checks. At this rate I’ll be able to sell ARMs to ten more poor suckers by the end of the week. What could go wrong?”

    * “And we’ll use default swaps to protect ourselves!”

    * “Banks would only be stifled by regulation. The dishonest and underperforming ones will be weeded out by market forces.”

    * “An unfettered free market will always lead to the optimum outcome.”

    * “Ronald Reagan proved we didn’t have to worry about deficits!”

    This isn’t quite the same as greed. It is believing in bullshit, in replacing common sense with ideological fervor.

  9. @Zawan I’m assuming we’re talking about the US constitution here. Income tax is definitely allowed by the 16th amendment, and is quite possibly allowed by the constitution itself. Also, taxes don’t take from “person A” and give to “Person B”. They take from persons “A, B, C, etc…” and give to them all in a common trust, held and spent by government, levied and spent in ways guaranteed by law. Income tax is an allowed one.

  10. Boy

    Just type federal income tax illegal into google

    You will see what I mean. The 16th ammendment never says that income tax for you and I should be a mandatory collection from the Gov

    It is not required by law. The IRS bullies people into giving up their cash. A lot like the Mob.

    The ammendment for the federal income tax as we know it now was NEVER passed

    Hence illegal

  11. zawan, you can write my okld boss in jail if you want. I think he may have some pointers on how NOT to be a “soveriegn citizen”.

  12. We need a new rock band, something neoPunk with a name like “The Roving Cavaliers of Credit”. A general takedown of Greenspan, Bernanke, Paulson and Geither for misunderstanding a thing called debt-deflation and that free-market systems are naturally unstable and function because they never have a balance point.

  13. Thank for the info AVRAM

    Wow, I never knew there could be so much contradicting information.

    There are people that say the 16th amendment was never ratified.

    There are IRS workers that can’t find a law that states the legality of Individual income taxes

    and then In 1913, there were 38 States in the Union. There is no legal documentation that the majority of the 38 States ratified the 16th Amendment.

    And then there are articles like this:

    oh woe is me, why can one never find the truth when the Government is involved.

    Also, NEON, UFO’s are unidentified flying objects not aliens. I think there are like a dozen UFO sightings every hour probably.

  14. Worth watching for the graphical representation of the “subprime family”, which morphs out of the “prime family” (add two more kids, booze, cigaretts, and 40 lbs the adults).

    But it can’t touch “The Giant Pool of Money” from This American Life (except in brevity).

  15. The point zawan, is use your head. Every possible permutation of belief, scam, con, truth, half-truth and paranoid delusional rant has been explored, it’s defenders and debunkers lined up and they all have their “proofs”.

    Bottom line, ya think if you walk into court and declare yourself a sovereign person the judge will say “Oh nooes! He caught us, now we have to let him go.” Nope, they’ll just throw your butt in jail.

  16. zawan, enough with the tax protest threadjack. You may want to spend some time at the

    Great, concise presentation. I think that the video should have spent a little time expanding on credit default swaps. Unregulated trading lead to the sale of more than $70 trillion (US) dollar CDSs among just about every investment bank and institutional lender, yet there was only a total of about $16 trillion (US) dollars in collateral debt obligation pools. This means that speculators, beyond those simply trying to hedge risk, were purchasing CDSs, though it turns out the issuers had no real reserves or liquid assets that would permit them to honor the CDS if payment was required. CDSs were listed as assets by investment banks and institutional investors, and used to obtain additional leverage. So, when investment banks and institutional lenders learned that their CDSs were either worthless or would bust the issuer, like AIG, the credit markets froze up.

  17. Apologies then for the “thread-jack”… I honestly loved Jarvis’ movie, went to his site, very talented.

    But I actually just found the answer to this whole tax thing after some footwork…went to the IRS site, and I was just cracking up at their explanation. But holy wow look at how many times they say “Frivolous”..

    It’s almost Saturday night live-ish, like they didn’t have a thesaurus

  18. The links above are currently down but you can find it by searching for ‘Crisis of Credit’ on YouTube.

  19. It’s classist and fatphobic to visually characterize “bad” or “risky” homeowners by making them fat, smokers, and have more children.

    There has to be a better, more accurate, less lazy, non-bigoted way to visually differentiate the “nice” homeowners (thin, heterosexual couple with one child and one dog) from the “irresponsible” ones (fat, smokers, 3 kids, drinking soda.)

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