It has been a long while since I have been so angry while watching a film. The corruption, the lack of repercussions and the lack of protection from this happening by the government was completely enraging.
Charles Ferguson (No End in Sight) brings to the masses the story of the global financial crisis of 2008. The financial crisis cost ten of millions of tax payers their savings, jobs and homes. Ferguson does his best to show how it happened.
Narrated by Matt Damon, the documentary starts with the financial crisis in Iceland. Iceland has a population of 320,000 and a gross national product of $13 billion. After their financial collapse the government losses totalled $100 billion.
This happened because in 2000 the Icelandic government allowed some deregulation in the financial area. Three Icelandic banks, which were small, began to borrow money. Within five years they had collapsed. What they went through was obviously not taken seriously by those in the U.S.
Over in the United States, Wall Street brokers were making huge salaries. Massive private gains were being made out of public losses. In 2008 this all led to a financial collapse of proportions not seen since the Great Depression. How did this happen, you ask? Read on.
After the Great Depression banks were regulated to protect the public. This continued until the 1980s and the Regan era. In the 80s the financial industry exploded and people on Wall Street got rich. Remember the film “Wall Street” and “greed is good”? Well, these were those days.
The Regan administration began to deregulate financial institutions and Clinton continued it. By the late 1990s the financial sector had merged into a few huge companies. All this was accomplished under Alan Greenspan (even I, a person who is pretty economically ignorant, recognized this name).
In 2001, George W. Bush took office and the financial industry was more powerful than ever. Riskier loans began being made. The banks did not really care whether people could pay them back. The Bush administration was way behind the curve and did not seem to understand the dangers.
When people began defaulting on their loans the banks began collapsing and the United States found themselves in a recession. None of the banks had done any planning for bankruptcy.
The U.S. recession had a worldwide effect. Due to it being a globalized world all economies are linked. World stock markets began to fall. There were layoffs and foreclosures. The poorest parts of the population suffered the most.
Since deregulation the largest financial institutions had been caught defrauding customers and cooking the books time and time again. Top executives at these firms walked away with their fortunes intact.
Though parts of the documentary went over my head as I’m not an economist, but I grasped enough to make my blood boil. The film leaves us with the knowledge that we did not learn anything from 2008. The banks today are bigger and more powerful than ever. Barack Obama enacted very few regulations and many of the people involved in the 2008 collapse make up his most senior economic advisors.
The rich will get richer and the poor will be made to clean up the mess yet again. Frustrating. Another instance of how we have not learned from history. But it does make for a fascinating watch.
-The Making of Inside Job
-Previews of The Film Foundation, Another Year, Get Low, The Tillman Story