An animation about “Toxie,” a toxic asset that reporters from Planet Money bought in 2010.
Host Ira Glass explains how the Planet Money team spent a thousand dollars of their own money to buy a toxic asset, and introduces Planet Money reporters David Kestenbaum and Chana Joffe-Walt. Their stories about "Toxie" have appeared on the Planet Money podcast and daily public radio news shows, and are collected here for the first time, into one epic, Dickensian tale. (3 1/2 minutes)
David and Chana buy a toxic asset, from a guy named Wit Solberg, who used to work on Wall Street and now helps small banks who've been saddled with toxic assets. Turns out...it's hard to buy a toxic asset. But, they eventually find one that looks good, and looks like it will actually make them and the team money. (9 minutes)
David and Chana try to track down the actual homeowners in their toxic asset. The toxic asset is made up of 2000 mortgages all over the country. Of those, half—1000 homeowners—are NOT making their payments. They eventually track one down. A retiree named Richard Koenig, who doesn't fit any of their preconceived notions of what a person facing foreclosure would look like. (13 minutes)
David and Chana discover a dark criminal plot inside their toxic asset. They do this with the help of several reporters from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, who turn them on to a Florida mortgage fraud mastermind nicknamed "The King of the Flip." (11 1/2 minutes)
“The Toxie Song” by Lyrics by Andrew Breton. Music and recording by James Gammon
David and Chana meet another toxic asset owner, like themselves. Only difference, David and Chana bought theirs after it was already toxic, for a steep discount, 99% off. George Laufenberg bought his for full price. Now, it's almost worthless, and George is trying to figure out who to sue. (10 1/2 minutes)
David and Chana's toxic asset, which has acquired the nickname Toxie, gets sick. And the payments that it's supposed to provide them every month stop. They try and figure out why. (10 minutes)