Our goal is to provide analysis and commentary that are valuable not only to economists and policymakers, but also to a general audience. This is especially important today now that the workings of our financial system have become vitally important to, well, everyone. But I realize, as a couple of readers have noted, that our posts often assume familiarity with a specialized vocabulary. To some extent this is unavoidable, because we want our posts to be short, and we don’t want to explain what a credit default swap is every time we use the term. But it’s a problem.
So we’re introducing a page called Financial Crisis for Beginners that includes information and resources for people who want to get up to speed on mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations, bank balance sheets, and the other concepts that people toss around all the time these days. It doesn’t presume any prior knowledge, and it even includes links to episodes of This American Life. So if you’re at all confused, check it out.