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A Three-Part Series on the U.S. Housing Bust DAY ONE
  • Boom
    Forces converge to fuel the biggest American housing boom since the 1950s: plunging interest rates, exotic new Wall Street securities that flood the mortgage industry with cash, and easier loan packages for immigrants and others with less-than-stellar credit.
  • Bust
    Banks and other mortgage lenders notice weakness in the housing market. New houses sit unsold and foreclosures rise as people who bought homes with adjustable-rate mortgages see sharp spikes in their monthly payments. Central bankers and other watchdogs are caught by surprise.
  • Live Discussion: The Bubble
    Staff Writers Alec Klein and Zach Goldfarb will be online with their guest, Stanford economics professor John Taylor, to discuss the series. (Monday, June 16, 12:30 p.m. ET)
  • Aftermath
    When subprime lenders implode, the contagion spreads quickly to Wall Street, which had packaged risky mortgage loans and sold the securities around the world. Investors panic that the housing collapse will reverberate through the rest of the economy.

Neil Irwin by Neil IrwinThis interactive mapping tool from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which sorts foreclosure and other data by county and zip code, will help you find out how the subprime crisis is affecting your neighborhood.

Two economists from the New York Fed explain in remarkable detail how mortgages get bundled and resold, along with some of the friction points in that process that led to the current crisis.

• "The Compleat UberNerd" provides more detail on how the mortgage industry works. It is contained in the archive of the finance blog Calculated Risk, which also gives routine news and analysis about the housing and credit crisis.

Ned Gramlich, a former Federal Reserve governor who died late last year, warned of the mounting subprime crisis early and often, but his warnings many times fell on deaf ears among his colleagues at the Fed. His book "Subprime Mortgages: America's Latest Boom and Bust" explains the problem well. You can read the first chapter online.

Portfolio magazine's Web site has an elegant animated illustration of how a collateralized debt obligation -- one of the bogeymen of the financial crisis -- actually works.

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