Many years ago The Economist did a series of schools briefings which aimed to explain banking and finance in everyday terms. When I started my job at the Economist in 2000 my father photocopied the set and gave it to me to read. (I was a science writer and knew little about economics.) Over the years I'd nagged at various people internally "why can't we do a schools briefing again?". Finally, they have.
In a special section explaining the new briefing (when on earth did we start explaining things to our readers?), an author helpfully writes:
"This series of schools briefs revives ’s occasional primers on topical subjects. The first series (published in 1975, on "Managing the British Economy") was intended to help British economics students prepare for school leaving exams, though we hoped it would also be of wider use. Subsequent subjects ranged widely, from American government to science. We last published a schools brief in 1999. It was on finance, and concluded: "Some of the new financial technologies are, in effect, efforts to bottle up considerable uncertainties. If they work, the world economy will be more stable. If not, an economic disaster might ensue."
These briefings, as well as a new briefing on Brazil written by my colleague Helen Joyce, are well worth downloading for a quiet read at the end of the day. I recommend Pocket for this.
The origins of the financial crisis, The Economist.