First, it's an exponentially larger problem than the news media is willing or able able to convey.
Second, sub-prime mortgages are just the tip of the tip of the iceberg.
Third, "the mess" has the potential not only to tank the real estate market and the financial system, but also what's left of the America's reputation.
While Bush & Co were hard at work selling Americans into a trillion dollar war, Wall Street and the banking and mortage industries were cooking up a trillion dollar scam of their own.
Here's how it worked:
Lend money to home buyers, package the loans as bonds and sell the bonds as safe and secure investments to banks, pension plans, governments, insurance companies, governments etc. etc.
After all, what could possibly be more safe secure that real estate in the good old USA?
One problem: a loan is only as good as the people making payments on it and the collateral that secures it.
What if loans were made to people who can't pay them back?
Then the bonds are worth less, sometimes a lot less, sometimes zero.
Here's how bad this is...
Imagine if you put money in a bank expecting to get it back with interest and one day your bank announced...Sorry, no interest, and we can only return 50 cents or 30 cents or zero cents on the money you entrusted with us.
That's what happening all over the world to people who bought bonds secured by "solid" US real estate loans. My guess is that it will make the tech bubble and S&L crisis look tame when it all shakes out.
It's bad enough that some loans were made to people who can't pay them back (the so called sub-prime mess), but the problem goes much deeper.
Many of these loans - no one knows how many, but certainly tens of billions worth - were outright frauds in one way or another: faked appraisals, faked credit histories, identify theft, or all of the above.
Bonds secured by "deals" like the one in this video are now scattered all over the world, literally ticking away like time bombs that are already starting to systematically blow up portfolios, pension funds, banks and organizations all over the world.