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.