Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Film Review: Inside Job

Inside Job

Released: 2010

Written/directed/produced by:
Charles Ferguson

Synopsis: 'Inside Job' provides a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. Through exhaustive research and extensive interviews with key financial insiders, politicians, journalists, and academics, the film traces the rise of a rogue industry which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia.

 Well this was a terrifying film. I'm the first to admit that I'm not so great at economics, finance or business studies. Frankly they go right over my head. Too many buzz words, abbreviations and complex ideas. When the GFC (global financial crisis) went down I relied on the "Dummy Guides" published in the papers and online in order to grasp an idea of what the hell was going on and even then so much of it was abstract and hypothetical. Australia, for the most part, escaped unscathed so much of the numbers (the amounts of people losing their homes, their jobs, their money) were removed from my reality and hard to grasp.

This documentary really hit home the realities of the GFC. Not only did it present the events in the lead up and the actual collapse in easy to understand terms but it conveyed the enormity of the banker's actions and the resulting chaos in simple and terrifying clarity. The film is broken into five parts which examined the financial history of America post Great Depression, the political changes made to the financial system, previous recessions and bubbles, popular financial 'games', the main players, as well as looking at the results of the crash and where we are now. By looking at the past, present and future the film-makers managed to demonstrate the causes as well as the hints towards a crash that then serve them well in their interviews with prominent bankers, academics and politicians.

Before the movie looks at the American crisis though, it looks at the economy of Iceland which went from a successful, stable and thriving economy into a complete mess when the banks were deregulated and big businesses were given right of way to do as they please. This small case study works to show the effects that can happen when financial institutes are given the opportunity to do as they wish and borrow in a large, unregulated manner. The basic thrust of the documentary is the role that deregulation played in the collapse. Now as I've already stated I'm not expert when it comes to this stuff but they sure do make a persuasive case for regulation in banks. As the banks shifted from reg to dereg and the cold war ended bankers started to play around more with making money; borrowing, lending, predicting trends etc. The doco educates it's viewers on derivatives and the instability and risk that these ploys brought to regular people like you and me. Basically banks believed they could make more money from less and they did that by gambling and by playing around with the money they had.

Alongside demonstrating the role deregulation played the documentary makes an effort to educate their audience on accountability. This was a big lesson for me. As you watch the evidence of these men and women defrauding innocent people into signing up to mortgages worth 99.3% of the property value, investing their money into "safe" options which were destined to fail, spending millions of dollars on hookers, drugs and frivolous purchases, and betting on their investments to fail so they can claim the's madness. Pure and simple. These people have been allowed to play hard and fast with other people's money with no consequence. They've been encouraged, every time they make a bunch of money they receive massive bonuses and when the investors and bankers do well the economy also thrives. Unfortunately when they do badly, so does the rest of the country. And as this particular collapse demonstrated, so does the rest of the world.

The final part focuses on where America is now, financially. It shows the tent cities, the foreclosed houses rotting street by street and the bonuses bankers are still making while the rest of the economy falters. It looks at the recovery attempts, the bailouts, the supposed political movements being made to stop this from happening again. But as it examines these areas it highlights the fact that the people responsible for this not only haven't been prosecuted for their actions but many of them are now serving on academic boards, financial committees and for the Whitehouse. The financial world is a small one and by letting the responsible people return to their careers without penalty nothing will change. Instead these actions have tainted the respectability and integrity of the entire economics and financial field and left unchecked we're likely to see the collapse of 2008/09 happen again.

Of course, considering this is a documentary it obviously has an angle it wants viewers to lean towards. There are many top people that decide not to participate in this film and considering the fact it's edited there is potentially a score of well reasoned arguments made by the 'guilty' that we are never privy too. That doesn't mean you can't take anything away from this, or that you have to take it all with a grain of salt. Much of the documentary is an education, hopefully enough of one that people won't blindly place their trust in the hands of bankers or traders or insurance brokers. I highly recommend this documentary to everyone, regardless of whether you already know all about this stuff or if you're rather uneducated on the subject like me. It's made for people like you and me. As the documentary states in it's conclusion, these men and women are going to push to avoid prosecution, saying they did the best they could, that it couldn't be avoided and that their jobs are difficult and that they can't be replaced easily. The job of the 'financial engineer' is a diffcult one, but that doesn't mean they should avoid investigation. The livlihoods of entire countries are placed into their hands and they should be held accountable when things go bad. A must-see.

My rating: 4.5/5


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...