March 27, 2009

Scenes From a Recession

The economy works in mysterious ways. This week, we highlight the unusual circumstances our economic drought has left us in, and the newly hatched plans being made to survive it.

Including a partially-renovated condo building in Chicago, whose developers have abandoned it—though they didn’t bother to tell the 19 unit owners who still live there, paying their mortgages. And a story which tracks the FDIC during its most covert operation: Taking over an unsuspecting bank


Host Ira Glass notes the sub-industry in journalism right now of reporting anything that looks like a sign of the recession. He then goes on to list a handful of his own favorites, including a dentist who's seen an increase in broken teeth from grinding, and a decrease in shark attacks. (2 minutes)
Act One

Is The Condo Half Empty, Or Is The Condo Half Full?

Ira goes to Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood to talk to some condo owners who are in a precarious situation—since the housing market crash, the developer who renovated and sold them their units—Haso Meseljevic—has all but disappeared. He's in foreclosure on half of their building's units. His son Samel Meseljevic and lawyer Hugh Howard aren't much help either. In the meantime, they have no one to pay for the repairs and maintenance of the building they all bought into.

In the story Ira speaks to Brian C. White, the Lakeside CDC executive director, which is a not-for-profit lobbying for affordable housing in the northernmost neighborhoods in Chicago. He also speaks with condo owner/mortgage banker Jon Miller, who has a website at chicagomortgagefinance.com. (21 minutes)

Act Two

Unbreaking The Bank

NPR reporter and Planet Money contributor Chana Jaffe-Walt reports this story of what it really looks like when a bank fails and is taken over by the FDIC. She talks to the former employees and a handful of FDIC staff about the Friday night when the Bank of Clark County was interrupted and closed by 80 FDIC employees, who had every step of their secret operation down to a science. (20 minutes)

Act Three

Short-circuit City

We hear 5 employees of different Circuit City store locations read their accounts of what it was like when the largest electronics chain in the US had less than 2 months to liquidate its entire inventory and close its doors. (12 minutes)