The Breakdown | Explaining Southern California's economy

The Wall Street financial crisis, perfectly visualized at Art Center in California

Leave it to a designer educated in California to create what might be the best explanation of the Wall Street financial crisis. Jonathan Jarvis graduated from Art Center College of Design in 2009 and got hired by Google. He was recently asked back to the prestigious art and design school — perhaps best known for schooling car designers — to elaborate on his experiences at Art Center and beyond and accept an award, but also to talk about "The Crisis of Credit Visualized."

It's a superb piece of information delivery. If you want to understand why everything went horribly, horribly wrong in 2008, just watch it (the entire animation lasts about 11 minutes — a miracle of concision). What's truly impressive is that Jarvis says that he knew nothing about finance before undertaking the project. 

He (prudently) leaves a few things out — namely, how some investment banks, like Goldman Sachs, profited from the meltdown by betting against the forever-rising mortgage market. But if you want that kind of deep-dish financial detail, you can always read William Cohan's "Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World."

And who knows, maybe Jarvis will now produce a sequel!

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