Via Consumerist (which, trust me, in these economic times is a site you need to have bookmarked) comes this lovely video from American Public Media's Marketplace, in which senior editor Paddy Hirsch explained exactly what's been going on with those toxic assets that we've heard so much about.
Hirsch does a really lovely job explaining the matter, with an analogy to Thanksgiving gravy. See, about a year ago, the securities market looked like delicious gravy. But guess what happened? Precipitation or flocculation or whatever the term is for when the layer of fat settles out of solution at the top of the gravy. The fat is the "rubbish" that no one wants to buy. The upshot: reports of rosy bank balance sheets don't take into account the glistening, thick slab of nast that's making its way to the bottom of the gravy tureen as the good stuff is poured out.
Anyway, Hirsch goes on to discuss the actions that banks can possibly take to dispose of their toxic assets and the dangers that the toxic assets still pose, but I won't spoil the ending by disclosing what happens to Dumbledore or whatever. The salient point is that this is delightful, and hopefully Hirsch will do another one comparing credit-default swaps to haggis.