Nonetheless, people keep asking me what I think of the bailout, or who to blame for the "crisis". I don't have an opinion of my own, really--that is, I haven't formulated one from the financial data. I can only read what others have wrote on the subject. Below you'll find some good reading to get you started on trying to figure out what's been going on.
On the collapse:
David Friedman does a great job explaining what Fannie Mae (and Freddie Mac, although he leaves them out for simplicity) do, and why they are now in trouble.
Tyler Cowen tries to summarize a paper that explains the credit crisis. There are more posts on Marginal Revolution about the crisis, but frankly, they're like this one: useless for laymen. This is a blog for economists (or at least, it is when it comes to this topic).
Brad Delong has promised a post summarizing his view of how we got here, but it's not up yet.
On the Bailout:
An open letter from quite a few economists.
Arnold Kling has been posting like mad on this subject. He's adamantly opposed to the current bailout plan (the Paulson plan). Just go read Econlog and see all his posts.
Paul Krugman, who is, I think, more in favor of a large-scale government intervention than many other economists, is nonetheless skeptical about the Paulson bailout plan.
James Hamilton agrees that the situation is scary, but doesn't like the Paulson plan.
A group of free market-oriented economists sound off on the bailout on reason.com.
I'm having a hard time finding any reputable economics bloggers who support the current bailout plan.
If anyone has some more good summaries from economists, send them to me and I'll link to them.
UPDATE: pkasting adds this Greg Mankiw entry on the Bailout.