Three weeks of being on the road with wretched connectivity (about which more later) forced a partial recourse to the MSM just as the mortgage mess went into hyperventilation mode. It's really hard to imagine how anyone without previous financial background or access to decent net commentary could make heads or tails of the mess reading the tripe that's passing for news out there. Now being back at home base with decent bandwidth, I've been scouting around for the most succinct summaries to recommend for those coming up to speed.
For the textual types, there's (thank heavens) still the WSJ which, after lampooning what's passing for analysis elsewhere, gives a very nice primer of the debacle, including ID on the major villains.
For the more visual, there's this Powerpoint primer, from Tom Maguire, which delivers the fundamental logic, let's say, though scuffing over the Fannie and Freddie angle. (Those who've worked with me in the past will note that it upholds my high standards for graphic content.)
Since it's impossible to avoid a political angle in this season, I'll also note that John McCain seems to have racked up another "told you so" point to go with his advocacy of the surge: He was a sponsor of a measure that would have more strictly regulated Freddie and Fannie back in 2005, but was derailed by Senate Democrats.
One other angle to consider: Since extensions of credit are de facto expansions of the money supply, we need to keep in mind that deleveraging the $11 trillion or so mortgage market, not to speak of the all of the derivatives based on it, could have a notable deflationary monetary effect. Just one more thing for the Fed to think about while considering the effects of acquiring all that bad paper, and perhaps tarnishing the sovereign debt to do so.