The Long Johns Explain The Subprime Meltdown

John Bird and John Fortune are British satirists who, as The Long Johns, explain in eminently practical terms exactly how the subprime meltdown came to be.

Warning: the characters are intentionally portrayed as casually racist “rich white banker” types, so if you’re offended by politically incorrect satire, before you start a comment war you might want to head over to the YouTube page and read what’s already been written there, as it’s pretty much all been covered.

Oh, and a second note, from a Metafilter reader who takes issue with the whole concept of tracing the meltdown back to loans made to the poor, whether black or white:

And to get even more nitpicky, one can also say that it’s wrong to keep blaming the whole mortgage/credit crisis on dodgy subprime mortgage lending, period. In other words, it’s not just the racial overtones of who they were fingering as an obviously bad credit risk, it’s the class overtones too, and both are equally wrong assumptions to make. “Subprime” has been overused and misused as a term to make the rich and supposedly-middle-class feel snooty and superior to “those” kinds of people, whose loans have caused the trouble, when really many of those “rich” people may have high incomes, but are also highly in debt (credit cards, cars) and using equally shady mortgage products to “own” their McMansions and to keep their posh lifestyles going. It’s just that their motgage products don’t always get lumped in as subprime, but rather get broken out into Option ARM’s or even just regular old ARM’s, not to mention their HELOCS (home equity lines of credit) which use their (perceived) home values as a piggy bank.

“The Long Johns — Subprime” [YouTube via Metafilter]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Well, I thought it was obvious that they weren’t trying to blame the poor black man they used as an example in the skit. The banker character saw nothing wrong with what happened at all (the poor guy can’t be at fault if nothing went wrong) and the interview asked if bailing them out was rewarding stupidity and greed (obviously blaming the banks).

    Really, this isn’t any worse than the Colbert Report episode where he talks about fixing gay people.

    I agree with the Metafilter comment about how you can’t blame a race or class for what’s happened but it’s clear that they weren’t trying to in the skit.

  2. It’s also very funny. Too bad we don’t get the South Bank show here.

  3. JohnMc says:

    Hmmm. I think your MetaFilter reader must be a little confused. Most anybody sitting in a McMansion would not fall under the option ARM but a Jumbo. Not to say a Jumbo can’t be an option ARM but the banking industry usually treats loans above $410k as jumbos and have to work alternate funding arrangements in order to bundle them for sale to the secondary market.

  4. Trai_Dep says:

    To anyone contemplating whether to click the Play button.


    It’s inspired, wry hilarity. British humor at its finest.

    Never heard of these gentlemen before, much the shame. Watch, then view our highly-rated Two and a Half Men. Then weep for America.

  5. mac-phisto says:

    i take issue with the very idea that we commenters might take issue & start a comment war. j/k.

    @JohnMc: jumbo merely refers to any loan above $417. jumbo loans fit into all the categories that conventional loan (<$417) would fit into (fixed rate, ARM, option ARM, etc.). here’s a great example of how “subprime” affects the rich too, if you’re interested: []

  6. bklynrickel says:

    absolutely smashingly good! $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  7. hinten says:

    ‘High sounds better than low’

  8. Pinget says:

    That may be the clearest explanation possible of this whole thing. Brilliant.

  9. Mr. Gunn says:

    Gah! Some people on Metafilter will find something racist about anything.

    I think it’s just jewish guilt.