Fitch, the ratings agency, says the credit crisis is now in its final stages.
Its report describes the impact of further downgrades by credit rating agencies as "minimal" and puts total losses at $400 billion, though more broad definitions could boost that to $550 billion.
Fitch also concludes that about half of the total subprime losses that caused the credit markets to falter come from the banking sector. The rest are spread through insurers, hedge funds, and others. That could be good news, Fitch says, because that mix of risk-holders may have hedged that risk more effectively than many expected at the nadir of the crisis.
Bottom line: We still don't know where all the losses lie, but confidence in lending markets does appear to be improving.
Addendum: If you're looking for an entertaining explanation of how the housing and credit mess happened, look to last week's podcast of the public-radio program This American Life titled "The Giant Pool of Money." It starts out with awards being given out this year for designing collateralized debt obligations (the securities behind a huge chunk of the above losses) and eventually links that to a former marine in Brooklyn, N.Y., who is facing foreclosure. It's a hugely successful effort to connect the dots of the current economic disaster. TAL is still the best show on radio (Internet or otherwise), so carve out an hour. You can download it here for free.