September 30, 2009
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR


   

"THE GIANT POOL OF MONEY," REVISITED

NPR AND CHICAGO PUBLIC RADIO'S THIS AMERICAN LIFE COLLABORATE ON
FOLLOW-UP TO HERALDED EXPLAINER OF SUBPRIME MORTGAGE CRISIS

COMPLETE STORY AIRS THIS WEEKEND ON THIS AMERICAN LIFE,
PREVIEW SEGMENTS AIRING ON NPR

September 25, 2009; Washington, D.C. – It's one of the most memorable moments from last year's "The Giant Pool of Money," the hour-long documentary co-produced by NPR and This American Life from Chicago Public Radio and Public Radio International that explained the subprime mortgage crisis and Wall Street turmoil. Homeowner Clarence Nathan had defaulted on his mortgage and was in the process of foreclosure. He lamented the "no-income verification loan" that his bank had approved, to the tune of $540,000 – even though he worked three part-time jobs and made about $45,000 a year. "The bank made an imprudent loan. I made an imprudent loan. We’re partners in this," he said.

"Would you have loaned you the money," reporter Alex Blumberg asked? Nathan replied: "I wouldn't have loaned me the money. And nobody that I know would have loaned me the money. I know guys who are criminals who wouldn't loan me that and they break your knee-caps. I don't know why the bank did it. I'm serious: $540,000 to a person with bad credit."

More than a year later, NPR economics correspondent Adam Davidson and This American Life producer Alex Blumberg update their award-winning report "The Giant Pool of Money" this weekend on This American Life. Two segments were already broadcast on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and are available at NPR.org: Wall Streeters Weigh Life After 'Giant Pool of Money' and 'Giant Pool of Money' Mortgage Crisis Follow Up. During the show, Blumberg and Davidson will replay portions of "Giant Pool," and check back with Clarence Nathan and the other individuals interviewed in that first story, whose lives have dramatically changed -- often, but not always, for the better -- since "Giant Pool" was broadcast. The entire program will be available to stream and podcast beginning Monday at the This American Life Web site, where there are also local stations and broadcast times for the program.

"The Giant Pool of Money" was reported by Davidson, Blumberg and This American Life host Ira Glass. The documentary went on to win Peabody, duPont-Columbia and George Polk awards; the Peabody committee cited "Giant Pool" as "impressive for the arresting clarity of its explanation of the financial crisis we're in, and even more so for its having aired so early –- in May 2008."

The tremendous success of that program led to the creation of NPR's Planet Money, a multimedia reporting project led by Davidson and Blumberg, covering the global economy on-air and online as a blog and podcast. The Planet Money team also regularly report full-hour episodes of This American Life, which is produced by Chicago Public Radio and distributed by PRI. Planet Money, by coincidence, launched on the first day of the acute financial crisis -- September 7, 2008 -- and has since established itself as the place for clear and innovative financial reporting.