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Published September 24, 2008

We're not economists, but according to our calculation, Wall Street is about to be swallowed up by a sinkhole. What can you do to protect your investments? Wait, you have investments? You're our most elite reader!

Normally, in times of such confusion, we turn to our FAQ team to help explain the news. Unfortunately, it seems our Q&A people are stymied themselves. They explain why in our FAQ: financial FAQs .


Okay, no jokes this time. Please explain the financial crisis.

No.

Don't make me beg.

No, I mean, I'd like to explain it. I just can't. I haven't a clue.

What? You? Mr. Answer Man? The man with the answer plan? You're stumped?

Guilty as charged.

It's like I don't even know you anymore.

I don't know myself anymore.

You're scaring me. For reals, isn't this an FAQ about the financial crisis?

Actually, it isn't. Have you tried reading any financial FAQs ? These normally boring primers are now full of useless technical jargon that only complicate the issue. We're looking at nothing less than a complete breakdown.

I get it. So this is an FAQ about --

The global failure of our FAQ system, yes.

I don't understand. It all seemed so stable.

That's what many Americans thought. That overconfidence triggered a shift away from the more traditional methods of information gathering and analysis, towards the "quick fix" approach of FAQs. Naturally, news organizations were only too happy to repackage their information into easily digestible Q&A-style news nuggets.

So what happened?

Everything worked fine as long as rates of interest in the news remained low. What nobody foresaw was advent of a national crisis so severe and so complicated that it affected practically all Americans. Consumers who had previously relied on low-effort soundbites and FAQs to get their news suddenly found they couldn't keep up with the skyrocketing levels of information being released each day. The dumbed-down FAQ format was simply not designed to handle it.

Well, crap. I'm screwed. I was one of those chumps. Now with FAQs in the dumper, my comprehension, my awareness, my idle cocktail party chit-chat...I've lost everything.

Not necessarily. Right now, members of Congress are working closely with FEMA to develop a bailout plan.

FEMA?

The FAQ Emergency Management Agency.

There's a federal agency that regulates these things?

Of course. What, you thought they were written by a bunch of bitter, alcoholic comedy writers who sit around their Soho offices laughing that their friends in the financial sector are taking it up the ass?

I guess not. That would be silly. So how will it work?

The plan involves greater federal regulation of FAQs, plus a $700 billion investment in forcing network news anchors to very slowly and patiently explain what the hell is going on. The plan is supported by both presidential candidates and the bill is expected to pass.

Fascinating. Do you think this bailout plan will stabilize the market to the point where I can begin relying solely on FAQs for my news? Or is this just a Band-Aid for a larger problem?

Only time will tell, my friend.

Really? You think we're friends?

No.


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