25 feb. 2011

My Review: Inside Job (8/10)

¨The global economic crisis of 2008 cost tens of millions of people their savings, their jobs, and their homes. This is how it happened.¨

Inside Job is a very insightful documentary about the global financial crisis of 2008 that produced the worst recession since the Great Depression. Millions of people lost their jobs and savings in middle of the crisis and according to this documentary it could all have been prevented. Charles Ferguson produced, directed, and wrote this Oscar nominated documentary. It is really well developed, beautifully shot, and will surely leave your blood boiling by the end of the two hour film. Ferguson (who also directed the Oscar nominated documentary No End in Sight, about America`s involvement in Iraq) successfully manages to take a complicated and dull subject matter and make it easy to understand and entertaining at the same time. One of the reasons the film works so well apart from all the research, interviews, and great shots is that Matt Damon got on board to narrate the movie. His renowned voice gave even more credibility to the film. The film was also really well edited by Ferguson`s usual collaborators: Chad Beck and Adam Bolt, who also co-wrote the script with him. Inside Job is the critic`s favorite pick to take home this year`s Oscar for Best Documentary, although I enjoyed Exit Through the Gift Shop a lot more. Inside Job is still mandatory viewing if we want to avoid another catastrophe like the one that happened less than three years ago; the movie is much more informative than any other documentary that came out, although I wouldn`t say it’s the most entertaining one.

The film opens with a prologue about the financial collapse in Iceland back in 2000, which should have served as a warning for what was going to happen in the future at a much larger scale. Ferguson claims that the crisis wasn`t an accident and that it was caused by an out of control and unregulated financial industry. Thanks to Ferguson`s exhaustive research and Matt Damon`s narration we are informed of how reckless risk-taking, poor risk assessments by the credit rating agencies, and predatory lending all led to the financial downfall. Inside Job is divided in five parts: Part I How We Got Here (Beginning from the Reagan era up to the Bush presidency), Part II the Bubble (2000-2007), Part III The Crisis (2008), Part IV Accountability (the men responsible for the crisis were left unpunished and wealthy; they continue to teach economics at prestigious schools shaping economics to their convenience), and Part V Where Are We Now (things have stayed pretty much the same since the same advisors in today’s government are the same people who built the economic structure that led to the downfall). Ferguson gives us a great amount of important facts along with interviews with key financial academics, politicians, and journalists. Many of the men responsible for the crisis declined to be interviewed for obvious reasons, but others like David McCormick, Glenn Hubbard, and Frederic Mishkin foolishly did so, and answered exactly like guilty people would do so. The interviews with them were one of the highlights of the film. They were left speechless.

Before watching Inside Job I personally had very little insight about the causes of the financial crisis due to my lack of financial knowledge, but Ferguson does a great job of explaining the situation and making it accessible and easy to understand. Some people may argue that the film oversimplifies the causes of the crisis, but I can`t really comment on that. What I can say is that Ferguson really did a lot of exhaustive research on the subject and that can be seen clearly in his interviews where he leaves his interviewees speechless or mumbling empty and unreasonable words most of the time. McCormick (the Secretary of the Treasury during the Bush Administration) never knew how to answer his questions and simply had to state ¨financial markets today are incredibly complicated.¨ Others like Henry Paulson declined to be interviewed (which makes me think they are guilty if they aren`t able to defend themselves). Others like Glenn Hubbard (Dean of Columbia Business School) got upset for not admitting that corrupted Academic economists have been major advocates of deregulation and he didn`t think there was a conflict of interests there (big mistake). But the true clown of the film is Frederic Mishkin, an economist who supported financial deregulation in Iceland and wrote a paper called Financial Stability in Iceland (another big mistake). After Iceland went through such a financial disaster which Mishkin foolishly never foresaw, he decided to change the title of his paper in his CV to Financial Instability in Iceland trying to look smart and making people think he had predicted the disaster beforehand (an even bigger mistake). When Ferguson pointed out this lie to Mishkin he simply attributed it to a typo (a rather convenient one I would think).  The film really has a strong ending and claims nothing really has changed since we still live under a Wall Street Government.

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