The heads of Wall Street's biggest investment banks were summoned to an evening meeting by the US Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, to discuss the plight of another - Lehman Brothers. After... See full summary »
A close look behind the scenes, between late March and mid-October, 2008: we follow Richard Fuld's benighted attempt to save Lehman Brothers; conversations among Hank Paulson (the Secretary of the Treasury), Ben Bernanke (chair of the Federal Reserve), and Tim Geithner (president of the New York Fed) as they seek a private solution for Lehman's; and, back-channel negotiations among Paulson, Warren Buffet, investment bankers, a British regulator, and members of Congress as almost all work to save the U.S. economy. By the end, with the no-strings bailout arranged, modest confidence restored on Wall Street, and a meltdown averted, Paulson wonders if banks will lend. Written by
I hate to do this right now, but I'm going to have to have a press call first thing, and I don't know what I'm going to tell them.
Okay, here's how you explain it. Wall Street started bundling home loans together - mortgage-backed securities - and selling slices of those bundles to investors, and they were making big money. So they started pushing the lenders saying, come on, we need more loans.
The lenders had already given loans to borrowers with good credit, so they go bottom feeding, they ...
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This is the scariest movie I've ever seen. But that's just me.
As some who works deep in the world of finance and lost sleep with the rest of Wall Street during that dark and disturbing week, it's possible that I'm a little too close to this story. It hits home. Thankfully, Too Big to Fail opens up a window so that the rest of world can look in from the safety of their living room.
Forget monsters, serial killers, and the nouveau low-budget movement of "two guys in a room with a camera and a ghost."
This is real. This happened. This could happen again.
You'll be terrified to see just how close to the brink we came, how close we were to one of the biggest economic disasters in human history. And you'll be shocked to learn about the types of personalities in which the rest of the planet has invested so much power and authority. Troubling, yes. But it's an important piece of history as well.
In terms of production HBO knocked this one out of the park. That's to be expected, I suppose, when you sign one of the great working American directors in Curtis Hanson and use one of the most highly respected chronicles of the financial crisis as your source material. Andrew Ross Sorkin even has a cameo and gets credit as a consulting producer to make sure they got the facts straight.
So it's no wonder such a brilliant, top shelf cast fell in line. HBO must have had their pick of the litter. The names in this movie are not only eerie facsimiles of their real life counterparts, but these are the actors that can really act.
The ever-dependable William Hurt is admirable in the lead, bring a little humanity to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, but it's the supporting performances that deserve special praise. Billy Crudup boils with intensity as an anxious, f-bomb dropping Tim Geithner, and Paul Giamatti perfectly captures the essence of Ben Bernanke, that quietly authoritative voice that the biggest egos in the world always shut up and listen to. Viewers at home will get a kick out of Ed Asner as Warren Buffett and, as is always the case with Buffett, his folksy charm serves as a bridge into to the arcane world of high finance. And former Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld is appropriately vilified thanks to James Woods, not for being a greedy fraudster, but for being a sadly out-of- touch executive unable to adjust to a world that changed overnight. Despite Fuld's arrogance and bluster, Woods invests him with a subtle sense of dignity.
Too Big to Fail achieves a rare feat for talky dramas: it sustains acute tension for ninety full minutes, never slowing down and never climaxing prematurely.
Even if you're not a financial insider or policy wonk you'll be on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
Just don't watch it late at night.
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