Because I read bits and bobs here and there, and for the most part I really don’t understand what they’re talking about, specifically, beyond OMG! It Is Bad™!
Keep in mind I’m not a math-head and my understanding of money is more concrete than abstract: I give her goods or services, she gives me money; I give him money, he gives me goods or services. Stuff like “short selling” defies logic to me (“here, let me sell you stuff I don’t actually own” – who would be dumb enough to buy something that doesn’t exist?) so you’re going to have to work harder on those types of things.
I understand that Something Bad happened with a ton of mortgages, and it’s bad, in part, because of the sheer numbers of mortgages that went bad. I understand that the net result is that a lot of people either default and get foreclosed upon, or they attempt to sell and the house sits on the market forever, so home values drop just because so many people give up and sell at a lower price than they wanted just to get rid of the albatross. This apparently is doing Something Bad to Wall Street, but I don’t know what or why. I know it’s affecting unemployment, but I’m vague as to how beyond the general “the economy sucks so no one has money to spend” kind of thing. I know the government is planning some record-setting bail-out, but I don’t know what or how exactly it’s supposed to work.
I don’t really “get it” beyond its immediate effect on me – i.e. lay-offs, as I’ve never had enough disposable income to invest in either the stock market or real estate… and then again, I lose my job every couple of years because of some downturn in the economy, so what’s so special about this one? There’s either some fantastic scare-mongering going on, or this economic crisis is worse than the last one by a few orders of magnitude.