Understand The Essential Players In The Foreclosure Scandal

Understand The Essential Players In The Foreclosure Scandal

Having trouble keeping track of all the different players and abbreviations and names in the latest foreclosure fraud mess? ProPublica offers a handy primer. [More]

Why McDonald's Never Rots

Why McDonald's Never Rots

Pictures of McDonald’s burgers that have been sitting around for years with no visible sign of decay, like the 7-year old one at left, have shocked and delighted the internets, but what’s the science behind the madness? Is it because McDonald’s is a lab experiment that we collectively hallucinate as being actual food? Salon asked the experts to find out. [More]

Can I Make Companies Give Me A Copy Of My Customer Service Call?

Can I Make Companies Give Me A Copy Of My Customer Service Call?

“This call may be recorded for quality assurance and training purposes.” Yes, but can I get a copy of it? Not unless you made one yourself. [More]

Is It Legal To Eat Your Cat?

Is It Legal To Eat Your Cat?

A man was pulled over last week in Western New York and found to have a live kitty marinating in his trunk. It was sitting in crushed red peppers and chili and salt and he said he intended to cook and eat because it had become “possessive, greedy, and wasteful.” Apparently the guy is new to cat ownership, as this pretty much describes every cat I have (lovingly) owned. Anywhoo, as the recession grows desperate, you yourself may find yourself wondering about the legality of frying up a fluffy four-legged friend. Slate probed case law state by state to find out. [More]

How Do UPC Codes Work?

How Do UPC Codes Work?

Have you ever wondered what that numbered zebra stripe on the box of every purchase really means? Yes, your fears are true. It does contain secret messages the manufacturer is trying to communicate to the bar code scanner. But we have a secret decoder ring you can use to figure them out using your brain powers. [More]

Explain Phishing To Your Grandma

Explain Phishing To Your Grandma

Next time you find yourself struggling to explain how phishing works to the less than techno-savvy people in your life, perhaps just fire up this charming little video that explains it in plain English and engaging pieces of cut-out paper.

The Real Reason Behind The $23 Quadrillion Errors

The Real Reason Behind The $23 Quadrillion Errors

The secret of the $23 quadrillion VISA debit errors looks like a specific and not uncommon programming error. Take the insanely large number, if you convert 2314885530818450000 to hexadecimal, you end up with 20 20 20 20 20 20 12 50. In programming, hex20 is a space. Where a binary zero should have been, there were spaces instead. What made this instance special is that it wasn’t caught in time. A Slashdot commenter identifying himself as working in the industry explains more about what very likely happened:

Oh Noes It's The "Shadow" Banking System

Oh Noes It's The "Shadow" Banking System

It doesn’t involve ninjas, but the “shadow” banking system is an important part of the US economy, it’s the companies that loan money but aren’t themselves banks. The loans they make aren’t kept on the companies books, they’re securitized and resold as bonds. White whiteboard and magic marker, Marketplace Senior Editor Paddy Hirsch argues this shadow banking system deserves it own bailout.

What's This "Public-Private Partnership" Mean?

What's This "Public-Private Partnership" Mean?

So the latest solution to the problem of these toxic assets on the banks’ books is a “public-private partnership” between the government and the private sector…yawn what is he going on about, I wish I had a pancake…oh wait! Here’s Paddy Hirsch from marketplace drawing stick figures on a whiteboard and explaining it all. Now we’re talking.

Why AIG Gave Your Money To Other Banks

Why AIG Gave Your Money To Other Banks

There’s been a big stink about how AIG has given a bunch of taxpayer money to other banks. Why why why, demand the American people. Well, it’s not like they enjoy shoveling money out the door, wait, scratch that, but anyway, the real reason is because of something called “collateral calls.” Marketplace’s Paddy Hirsch explains the situation with the help of his friends Mr. Magic Marker and Mrs. White Board in this video.

What Do Deal Site Acronyms Like "YMMV" And "AC" Mean?

What Do Deal Site Acronyms Like "YMMV" And "AC" Mean?

If you’re new to hunting for deals online, you’ll start seeing all these funky acronyms used as shorthand. Here’s some of the most common ones and what they mean:

Hot Cartoon Makes Understanding Credit Crisis Simple And Fun

Hot Cartoon Makes Understanding Credit Crisis Simple And Fun

This a freakin’ awesome cartoon that explains how the credit crisis began, played out, and exploded in our face. I know you’ve seen and heard a million of these by now, but this one is highly visually engaging and entertaining, enough so I could see it being used in the classroom and kids not getting (too) bored. Graphic designer Jonathan Jarvis. Especially good is how it explains leverage.

Your APR Is Now 91.29% – Yours Truly, Bank Of America

Your APR Is Now 91.29% – Yours Truly, Bank Of America

David’s effective APR on his Bank of America credit card is now 91.29%. It’s not a typo or a scam, it’s math.

What Is Mark To Market?

What Is Mark To Market?

One buzzphrase going around about the financial crisis is “mark to market.” Some think banks are being overly punished by being forced to “mark to market” the investments they own, or price them according to current market value. As you can probably figure out, those assets have plummeted. Marketplace’s Paddy Hirsch explains with his trusty whiteboard and stick figures what “mark to market” means, and what it means for the economy.

Bankruptcy Is A Last Resort

Bankruptcy Is A Last Resort

Bankruptcy is not a get out of jail free card for your debts, it’s a nuclear weapon. If you use it, expect to be considered credit unworthy for a decade.

Video: Oil Speculators To Blame For Record Gas Prices After All

Video: Oil Speculators To Blame For Record Gas Prices After All

If you thought oil speculators as the reason behind the historic gas prices spikes of this summer was debunked, think again. From ’07 to when the price of oil collapsed, supply increased and demand dropped. According to basic economic theory, this should’ve meant the price went down. But all of a sudden an influx of capital, an infusion that brought the total at play from $13 billion to $300 billion, brought to market by large investment bankers, exploiting de-regulation and trading in black box private exchanges made possible by Enron, drove the price of oil from $69 to almost $150. A new 60 Minutes report explores the issue. Video inside.

Your Credit Card Costs Consumers ~$50,000,000,000 Per Year

Your Credit Card Costs Consumers ~$50,000,000,000 Per Year

Not all money is created equal. It costs retailers extra in fees when you use a credit card, a costs that gets passed right back to you in the form of higher prices, and how much that is depends on which credit card you use. To see how much more expensive your credit card is making life, enter the first 6 digits of your credit card over at truecostofcredit.com, a mashup developed by reader Sean Harper and his friend. This is the bank identification number and cannot be used to steal your credit card, so don’t worry. If you rather not do that, you can also see the results for an AMEX, a debit card, Mastercard rewards card, or a Visa rewards card. Of the project, Sean writes:

What Is Quantitative Easing?

What Is Quantitative Easing?

Want to know a fancy word for printing new money? Meet “Quantitative easing,” the Fed’s weapon of last resort to try to prod banks to lend to each other and to companies. Marketplace’s Paddy Hirsch is back with his whiteboard to explain how it all goes down. Video inside.