Back in October, This American Life did a great episode explaining the economy in plain english. I know for me this is still what much of my understanding is based on. Well, the guys behind that one came back and did a refresh, this time focusing on banks. Once again it’s well worth a listen (it’s an hour).
Generally I think there’s a dearth of this kind of information (which they actually bring up at the beginning of the show). I suspect it’s because there aren’t that many people with a clear understanding of what’s going on (I always think back to the Einstein quote, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”). While we’re on the topic of simple financial explanations, I also highly recommend checking out the Marketplace Whiteboard video series. It’s just a dude in front of a whiteboard explaining things simply enough that I can understand it. (Oh, and one more good one: The last section of this TAL episode is an awesome explanation of why everyone is talking about John Maynard Keynes.)