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'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. It was made on location in the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore, and China. Written by
It was the last thing I wanted to see as the holiday Season sets off: A documentary explaining the World wide economic depression. But it was probably something I should have put before, say, "Burlesque." This is a serious film that has no particular political axe to grind in terms of "Republican" vs. "Democrat" since each successive administration beginning with Ronald Reagan is thrashed for bowing down to Wall Street rather than protecting American citizens from the most immoral graft and greed, that I can remember in my 60 years as a U.S. Citizen. While it's true that "deregulation" is the hue and cry of one particular political party, what occurs with investment and banking firms is so entwined with our national representatives, that it does no good whatsoever to point fingers at one party.
The film opens with the simplest explanation of the impact of investment banking firms in the tiny country of Iceland. When investors move in and create a financial "bubble" for the sole purpose of letting it burst while taking off with enormous profits for themselves, the opening credits then start and introduce us to the players who would come to power with Reagan (Volker and Greenspan) and remove restrictions that had been put in placewe should all remember for good reason; regulations were set up because people had abused an open marketwe see the rise and fall of the U.S. economy which became based on nothing but investment since all our "production" had been poorly managed and sent abroad, i.e. steel, automobiles, etc. What was left was goods and services and a tiny, though prosperous, "information technology." When Reagan gutted regulation and regulatory agencies, a system of credit developed where finance agencies sold risky loans to entities, and at the same time "bet" on those loans to fail, setting up a situation that the more risky the loan, the bigger the profit for lender. Various "talking heads" and bar graphs come across the screen, and they're all helpful in explaining what happened. But it's the deeply amoral points of view that get stated by people who were or are still in control of the financial banks and markets of this country that really appall.
And we're left with a sense of outrage and not more than a little sense of futility because there's nowhere to go for either compensation or redress. At the end of the film "Fair Game" about another kind of government takeover, we're given a civic's speech about how the country belongs to the people and it's up to us to make it work. Here, in "Inside Job" there's nothing anyone can do. We elected a president who was sent to prevent the problem from happening again, but instead he appoints many of the same people who set up the situation and profited from the first round.
I didn't find the small section of the film describing the "type A" personality of the players involved who use prostitutes and drugs to be either relevant or convincing. We see a former call girl allude to many in the financial world, but so what? There's a small dig at Elliot Spitzer, but he offers it himself. As well, we're given a psychiatrist who "can't reveal names" but can say for certain many in the financial industry are addicted to drugs and prostitutes, but so are many outside that world. It came across as a cheap shot in a film that brings forward many significant players (and names many who refused to appear in the film) and exposes them for what they are. They need no further tarnishing.
I did see one area that could be addressed as a beginning of reform. Various economic professors who are brought from institutions of higher learning to "advise" the government and then return to their teaching jobs aren'tfor baffling reasonsprohibited from making profit off the policies they recommend. That needs to be stopped. In most disciplines, university professors can't use their research and publications for personal gain. Those in the field of economics need the same kinds of restrictions. And students should demand it.
We should all demand a lot more than we're getting from our government, but I guess we hope we're going to be one of the few to reap those enormous profits (which is a real sucker's bet). It's baffling and infuriating to watch this film and walk out into the light of day where the practices on display are still going on.
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