This American Life: The Watchmen

June 18, 2009

Who was regulating AIG?  Last week’s episode of This American Life in cooperation with Planet Money [here] tries to track down the regulator responsible for AIG’s ship sinking activities.  (The second section, about ratings agencies is interesting, but considerably less amusing and informative than the first.)

2 Responses to “This American Life: The Watchmen”

  1. danielbeunza Says:

    I listened to it on the treadmill and found it terrific. Initially, the story seems to be one of regulatory holes. No-one seemed to be regulating AIG.

    Then it becomes one of inadequacies and conflicts of interest. It was the Office of Thrift Supervision that had over-arching responsibility for the AIG holding, and missed the boat.

    I wonder, however, if the simple agency-theory stories of conflicts of interest hold water. I would be interested to speak to someone in the OTS. What tools did they use, for example, to decide whether to allow AIG the use of CDS?

  2. marthapoon Says:

    I agree that the narrative takes a particular form and does not dig into the technical places we would be more curious about. What I loved about the piece, however, was it’s ability to put humor and narrative into a factual piece of empirical research. It takes a simple question – who was the regulator? – and makes the act of tracking down the answer interesting and engaging. The radio format, the way the interviews are used, is also such a powerful way of telling a story. It makes me wonder if something similar would be possible for a conference presentation…


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