Inside Job

“Inside Job” is a documentary film about the economic meltdown of 2008. Its main point is that the resulting Great Recession was  avoidable. In fact, no one listened to the few people who predicted the problems well in advance or acted on the implications of their predictions. At least one of the prophetic voices, that of a woman, was denounced by detractors. Her name was given in the film, but it flew by before I could get it down on paper. By rights, her name ought to be written on a plaque in some economists' hall of fame.

Charles Ferguson wrote, directed and produced this outstanding film, narrated by Matt Damon. His work has been recognized by the academy. An earlier documentary “No End in Sight,” about the lead up to the Iraq War, was nominated for an Oscar in 2008.

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 “Inside Job” is faster paced, more cinematic and less a game of entrapment than are Michael Moore’s "gotcha" documentaries. And Ferguson delivers as close-ups the telling shots of the men who indict themselves by their evasions, refusals and unrepentant pomposity when a straight answer to Ferguson, an always unseen questioner, might save their credibility instead.

Viewers will see, among others: Frederic Mishkin, a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, who is asked why he resigned from the board a month before the crash; Richard Fuld former C.E.O. of Lehman Brothers; Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs; Frank Raines, former C.E.O. of Fannie Mae; and Glenn Hubbard, who was President Bush’s chief economic advisor, and is currently dean of Colombia School of Business. Hubbard becomes indignant, then curt, during the questioning, ready to evict the interviewer from the room. I couldn't forget this scene when I read Hubbard's recent op ed piece in the New York Times.

What becomes overwhelmingly clear in this film is that government (both the Bush administration and the Obama administration) has deep ties to the very people who held positions of power in businesses that led to the crisis, and some of those people have made enormous sums playing both sides of the meltdown. Henry Paulson is a prime example. Paulson ran Goldman Sachs before President Bush appointed him Secretary of the Treasury. Paulson was allowed to sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of his Goldman stock tax-free, and according to the film, he later funneled billions to Goldman during the bailout. None of this is said to be illegal. But it is unseemly, and unfair, given the millions of Americans who lost their jobs and their homes as a result of the misdeeds of Wall Street and have received no comparable government assistance.

The roles of Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers, before and after the fall of Lehman, are also held up for inspection. Those cast in the roles of analyst and sage include Charles Morris, George Soros, Elliot Spitzer (no kidding) and Christine Lagarde the French finance minister.

 The film is powerful, though not inspiring of hope. Still, anyone who wishes to understand more about what caused the current economic crisis would do well to see it. I highly recommend it.

 

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Stanley Kopacz
8 years ago
The problem is that the government is owned by Wall Street and big money.  Barney Frank doesn't run the system.  The government does only as much as serves the immediate desires of big money.  And nothing happens that doesn't please our feudal lords.  For the last thirty years, with either democrats or republicans in power, the government has become corrupt on the order of the age of the Robber Barons.  It was nauseating to hear the newly elected Republicans talk about taking back the government.  From whom and for whom?  For the people?  Give me a break.
8 years ago
"Those cast in the roles of analyst and sage include Charles Morris, George Soros, Elliot Spencer (no kidding) and Christine Lagarde the French finance minister."

- So in other words we really shouldn't expect a real balanced, objective "analysis" of the situation right?  Just FYI, George Soros is a billionaire who has also profited off of the "Wall Street mindset".  I know because he's a big time liberal, that tends to be forgiven.  And I wonder if there is there any analysis/mention of the GOP critics who foresaw the looming collapse of Frannie and Freddie & attempted to force reform over the cackles and cries of those "defenders of the people" like Maxine Waters (whose husband's bank was bailed out - she'll be on trial next week by the by)?  I highly doubt it.

8 years ago
The financial crisis has many authors and one has to separate the credit crisis of September 2008 from the overall crisis caused by the bubble in real estate and its subsequent collapse and its current lingering to the present.  The credit crisis that made all the headlines and brought down Lehman and Merrill Lynch was over by late November 2008 or early December.  No one knew this till a few months later when all the numbers came in.

What we are living through now is the second major part of the crisis and that is the collapse of the housing bubble.  Unlike another asset bubble in the stock market of the late 90's which collapsed just as dramatically early in 2000, this one has had far more ranging implications since people place more of their actual self worth in housing as opposed to stocks and one could borrow easier against supposed housing price increases as opposed to borrowing against your stock portfolio.

Housing prices rose 90% in just 6 years from 2000 to 2006 and it is to this one must turn their focus if one is to understand what really happened and to understand the root causes of everything.  Credit default swaps, CDO's, and other financial instruments make sexy cocktail party discussions but the real issue is the rapid and artificial rise in home prices.  The normal rise is 1-2% a year and the country and a large part of the world witnessed 10 times that.  It was not just the US.  One had only go to Spain, Ireland and the UK to see similar trends.  If housing prices had not risen so artificially during this period there would have been no crisis to talk about.  As late as 2007 Fannie Mae was still encouraging the sub prime loans to non equipped borrowers.

From what I understand this movie is a hit piece and I will have to see what it actually says but from the post above, it seems to miss out on the real culprits. One of whom is being groomed for president of the US in a few years.

The person shouted down in 1998 was Brooksley Born

p://www.global-sisterhood-network.org/content/view/2205/59/ 

But she was worried about derivatives which are to blame somewhat but wouldn't have been a problem if housing prices had been allowed to go their normal ways.  The real culprits were at HUD who devised ways to make the prices of homes rise by artificially changing the demand curves through new creative loan schemes.  The banks and mortgage brokers were only too eager to help as they made fortunes and took no risk.
8 years ago
Just as I suspected, this movie is a ultra liberal hit piece and neglects the real causes of the financial crisis to advance a political agenda.  I read a couple reviews.  It apparently portrays Barney Frank as a hero when he is one of the architects of the crisis.  Apparently the movie also tries to make Elliot Spitzer out as a hero when it is his successor who he endorses is one of the main causes of the financial crisis.  It is so much hypocrisy, it is hard to fathom the hubris which allows one to make such a movie with a straight face.

I find it funny as the liberals go after Wall Street when they are essentially an extension of the Democrat Party.  There are many Republicans on Wall Street but their support for politics is mainly for the Democrats.  That is because the Democrats steer big money toward them through government programs and regulations.  Just consider the current Fed policies that enrich such Wall Street firms as Goldman Sachs.
8 years ago
The link I have above on Brooksly Born is missing part of it.  The first three letter are missing.  It should be

http://www.global-sisterhood-network.org/content/view/2205/59/

A much better article on her life and role is in the Stanford Magazine.  She was a graduate of Stanford and its law school.  Here is the link

http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2009/marapr/features/born.html

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