See the financial crisis on this unusual Wall Street tour

It’s rare that you get a guided tour through still unfolding carnage. Imagine walking through Aceh right after the tsunami or New Orleans while the rains from Katrina still fell. Lower Manhattan‘s financial crisis tour doesn’t involve as much bad weather or physical danger, but it does give you the chance to learn about the most profound financial disaster in decades in the place where it all started.

This is “The Wall Street Experience.”

Guided by a former Wall Street insider, you’ll spend the 90 minute tour learning how some traders raked in billions in profits while entire banks came to an end. Also, you’ll be introduced to a “shadow banking system” that the government ignored until it was too late.

It’s not all mayhem down on the Street, though.

The tour will give you an overview of the history, architecture and trivia for this part of the city. The culture of the trader is wrapped up in these walls and streets – and you’ll hear all about it. But, did you know that this was once the political center of the United States? A statue of George Washington stands in front of the building from which he governed the country, staring across the street at a world of financial engineering he’d probably never be able to understand.

The tour guide, Andrew Luan, is a former Deutsche Bank vice president and traded what are now called “toxic assets.” He charges $40 a person, though children are free. Part of the proceeds goes to increasing financial literacy. Financial illiteracy is at crisis levels right now, so I applaud Luan for this. If you have become a victim of the financial crisis, The Wall Street Experience does offer weekly tours for those who can’t afford to pay.

New Tsunami Early Warning System in Place

Since the catastrophic tsunami of 2004, there have been calls to bolster the deficient tsunami detection system in the eastern Indian Ocean. Nations have installed buoys that can detect tsunamis and offer early warning. But Indonesia, which received the brunt of the wave, is taking it a step further. With the help of a German geo-science company, they have begun to install sensors on the sea floor itself. These sensors will relay seismic data to buoys at the surface, which will, in turn, send them to Indonesia’s Tsunami Center via satellite. The system will give warning of a possible tsunami within minutes of an undersea quake. However, experts say that to be completely effective, the system requires more buoys, more undersea sensors and more electronic tide sensors.

Thailand has put buoys out into the ocean to act as an early warning system. In order to reassure tourists on the island of Phuket, they have also built Tsunami watch towers, which do little else than make tourists feel more comfortable.

Aceh: One Year Later

The folks at the Washington
Post have done an
extraordinary job
covering multi-media-wise the state of things in Aceh, Indonesia, year after the Tsunami.

This really is an extraordinary series of videos, panoramic photos and more. I am constantly impressed by how
the Post does Web multi-media, and they have taken the whole concept a step or two further with this series. Give it a
look, and marvel at how well panoramic photos tell the story of a place. I’m so into this and thrilled to see pano
photography and video get some real attention.