Hear: The Week America's Economy Almost Died

Henry Paulson

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, 9.17.08 Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Win McNamee/Getty Images



Just press play.

Today on Planet Money:

— David Kestenbaum uncovers a computer model of the economy made in the 1980s by ... drumroll, please ... Ben Bernanke. Let's just say it calls for fast action now.

— Daniel Costello talks to libertarian Thomas Firey about common assumptions in the crisis, including that more regulation is needed and that banks can grow so big that governments can't let them fail.

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Why does anyone think that the country will not slide off into the economic abyss? This bailout (if it happens in time) may merely delay the inevitable.

Sent by Mary F. Richards | 7:04 PM | 9-26-2008

That was an excellent piece!
Thank you so much for edumacating me on this complex, titanic issue.

Sent by andrew | 7:07 PM | 9-26-2008

I am against bailing out those that make a million dollars or more when I, as an educator on a fixed income, do not have this benefit. I feel those that have been making the big bucks and causing our financial industry to be in the dire straights we are now - should be made to purchase stocks in those companies the government is wanting to bail out.

Sent by Barbara Lierson | 11:15 PM | 9-26-2008

Is it coincidence that Greenspan retired just before the real magnitude of the sub prime nightmare revealed itself? Did he see it coming, and got the hell out of Dodge?

Sent by Allan Bullard | 8:14 AM | 9-27-2008

Remember the scenes in almost famous when the people would get off the phone with the kids mom and say "your mom kind of freaked me out". Thats how I feel every time I listen to these. Now I am scared they will regulate lending, pass the bail out then when the market freezes other nobody will be able to step in and lend when the price is right because of some stupid regulation that congress passed.

Sent by greyson | 2:06 PM | 9-27-2008

Great podcast. Why did the money market fund break the buck?

Sent by Jim Trenton | 7:41 PM | 9-27-2008

After listening to the segment, "The U.S. Economy's Brush With Death", I am stunned. As a small business owner, I have never borrowed any money to maintain my business. Initially, I didn't think anyone would give me a loan and then as time went on, I built my own 6-8 month emergency fund, just as my husband and I have done for our family, should some economic crisis occur. So, when I heard that a company Servicemaster may need to borrow money on a regular basis to make payroll, I am shocked and dismayed: Why can't they build there own emergency capital fund? It seems the only reasons they would avoid doing so is because they either want to a) spend all of their profits and/or b) money was so cheap, there was no reason to think about any impending emergencies. Both lines of thinking seem foolish to me and are the genesis of much of what troubles our financial system. In a future podcast, I hope you will comment on why we, as an economic system, should continue to look at borrowing with such non-chalance. What is about their business that makes such day to day borrowing an effective business strategy for the long term. If it's simply it's cheap to borrow, glad to know borrowing may get more expensive.

Sent by Celeste Lewis | 12:50 AM | 9-28-2008

thanks for the piece on the commercial paper market. I came to the site looking for some concrete evidence of this much-reported "almost standstill" of the economy. But I still haven't heard numbers--is there no numerical measure of the movement of credit? If there is, how has that number moved over the last 6 months, month, week?

Sent by Liz, Washington DC | 11:36 AM | 9-28-2008