31 December 2010 | winterhaze13
Probably the best documentary I have ever seen
Inside Job is an enthralling documentary about how the reckless actions of Wall Street lead to the near collapse of the financial sector and subsequently the deepest recession since the 1930s. This is the second film by director Charles Ferguson, the first being No End in Sight an equally engaging indictment of the Bush Administration's handling of the occupation of Iraq.
Ferguson focuses on the Wall Street culture and the blatant arrogance of a half dozen men as the main causes of the financial turmoil. Inside Job begins in Iceland where the deregulation of the financial system in the 1990s lead to three banks accumulating assets almost ten times the small country's gross domestic product.
It becomes clear by the midpoint of the film that Iceland is a micro example of what has become a global problem. Runaway banks have been accumulating assets through toxic loans and other manoeuvres while paying themselves lavish bonuses.
Inside Job is easily one of the most frustrating documentaries ever made. And that is undoubtedly Ferguson's intention. The film is critical of Wall Street executives, credit agencies and especially regulatory agencies for the crisis.
Inside Job includes interviews from IMF head Dominique Strauss-Khan, congressmen Barney Frank, former New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer and many others. Ferguson traces the evolution of the banks from a small, largely local service to an out of control industry. He does not hold back criticizing every administration since Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.
Ferguson argues that despite what most people think, there were many people warning of an impending crisis in global financial markets. Ben Bernanke, Alan Greenspan and Timothy Geithner ignored various signs of impending doom. Not to mention former treasury secretary and incidentally former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson.
Inside Job makes the argument that the federal regulators are as responsible for the breakdown of the system as are the executives of Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns. More frustrating still is the revolving door between Wall Street and government agencies.
As the banks became more deregulated, the more speculation became a problem. Derivatives, and credit default swaps, complicated trading schemes that most people do not understand is what caused the collapse of Lehman Brothers sending shockwaves through financial centres all over the world.
Credit agencies like Moody's and Standard and Poor gave firms like Bear Stearns, Lehman brothers, and Morgan Stanley A grade credit ratings within weeks before they nearly collapsed. And also having one of their executives standing up in front of a congressional committee and telling congressmen that their ratings are just merely 'opinion'.
It becomes clear that this is not a problem that emerged from the housing boom early in president George W. Bush's second term. Rather this was a systematic breakdown driven by a neoliberal ideology supported by Ivey league economic schools across the United States.
Inside Job is simply a story of bankers more interested in collecting bonuses and making more money than providing what should be an essential service. What makes it even more frustrating is that many of the key figures behind the crisis are currently on Barak Obama's staff. The film leaves us with a bitter pill to swallow.
As Ferguson notes, Wall Street has returned to normal with no federal prosecutions against any of the guilty. And one of the most poignant scenes in the film comes from Robert Gnaizda, the former head of the Greenlining Institute, a consumer lobbyist group who laughingly dismisses recent legislation to regulate banks with a simple 'Hah'.
Inside Job helps explain many of the complex terms such as derivatives and insurance backed securities that confuse those not immersed in the banking community. It is essential viewing for any citizen concerned about our broken system.