Finally, someone has done a pretty straightforward video on how credit default swaps work. The punchline, if you will, is the part near the end about how someone can buy this type of insurance without actually owning the asset that's being insured. That was the magic ingredient that multiplied all of the problems in the meltdown and sent everyone into a panic. Also, take note that these swaps only cost about 2% per year of the insured value. So, when our government made good on AIG's contracts, they were providing Goldman Sachs and others with nice little 50:1 payoffs in many cases.