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The housing crisis and its politics explained online


The economic crisis, spurred by a faltering housing market and credit defaults, is perhaps the paramount problem facing the country. Purporting to fix it was a major platform that certainly contributed to President Obama's election to office.

But the reality is that relatively few people actually understand what this whole credit crunch is and who caused it. The extent of knowledge for many is that a) it's harder to find jobs, b) HDTVs are impractical buys right now, and c) Obama signed legislation that's supposed to stimulate it.

A number of bloggers and participants of the social Web have put together some very clever and informative resources for learning about the current housing situation.

Animator Jonathan Jarvis crunched the essentials into an 11-minute video he posted online earlier....

...this week, titled The Crisis of Credit Visualized: The Short and Simple Story of the Credit Crisis (video below).

The animation walks through the concepts of the mortgage system, the history and its recent erosion. It's informative, well narrated, witty and entertaining. Think of it as "Schoolhouse Rock" with less singing.

OK, now that you're schooled on the basics of subprime lending, take a look at this cool info-graphic that shows what Americans spend their money on. Surprise! "Housing" leads the pack, accounting for an average of 27.8% of a consumer's spending budget.

The image has plenty of interesting stats, broken down by category and age group. For example, did you know that people over the age of 55 spend the most on utilities? Not really housing crisis-related, but worth noting.

My grandmother never turns on the air conditioning, even in Florida summers. How can you stand it, Granny?

-- Mark Milian

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Photo credit: Associated Press

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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