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The Card Game

2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

As credit card companies face rising public anger, new regulation from Washington and a potential perfect storm of economic bad news, FRONTLINE correspondent Lowell Bergman examines the future of the massive consumer loan industry and its impact on a fragile national economy. In a joint project with The New York Times a follow-up to the Secret History of the Credit Card Bergman and the Times talk to industry insiders, lobbyists, politicians and consumer advocates as they square-off over new regulation and the possible creation of a consumer finance protection agency. How are the credit, debit and pre-paid card industries repositioning themselves to maintain high profits under the new rules? The stakes couldn t be higher as many fear the consumer loan industry could be at the center of the next crisis.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Narrator: Lowell Bergman
  • Directors: Producer: Graham Townsley
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: January 26, 2010
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002TCRQ5O
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,921 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By stoic VINE VOICE on July 17, 2010
The Card Game is a PBS Frontline documentary that reports on how bankers have encouraged Americans to take on large amounts of debt. The film focuses on the roles of credit cards, debit cards, and payday loans. The Card Game is very interesting, but the filmmakers tell only part of the story.

The film has some great interviews with major players in banking including:
the former CEO of Providian (a pioneer in issuing credit cards to those with poor credit ratings),
the inventor of "overdraft protection" for checking accounts,
and the head of a payday loans company.

Another good segment explains bankers' lobbying power on Capitol Hill. There are interviews with Senators Christopher Dodd and Richard Shelby (who are, respectively, the ranking Democrat and Republican on the Senate Banking Committee). There is also a segment with one of the bankers' main lobbyists.

The filmmakers' political views were too apparent, in my opinion. While they did take Senator Dodd to task for the $7 million in campaign contributions he got from bankers, the filmmakers definitely present bankers and Republicans in a negative light. I prefer filmmakers who allow viewers to decide for themselves.

The film should have explained how past regulations helped encourage the current era of "easy credit." In the 1970s, the failure of financial institutions to lend to working-class Americans led to bills such as 1977's Community Reinvestment Act. Legislation did lead to better access to credit. But such credit often saddled low-income borrowers with onerous terms. Arguably, recent legislation will again restrict access to credit among those who need it most.

I enjoyed The Card Game, but it oversimplifies some vexing issues.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jeffery Mingo on December 13, 2009
This PBS program talks about the sneakiness of credit card companies. It proves that the companies will obey all new laws, but continue to find ways to milk people of their loot.
I knew credit cards make money off of ppl that don't pay on time. However, this work said they can increase your rates if you are late on a completely separate debt. Unlike the US tax system, the poor pay the most and the rich the least (which reminds me of the lottery now that I think of it). This work actually moves beyond credit cards and details the sneakiness behind debit cards and check-into-cashes places too.
This work is diverse in terms of occupations, interviewing academics, Obama's secretaries, business leaders, etc. This work is diverse in terms of gender, but I only saw one person of color interviewed, sadly. It's great that they speak to many individuals and families that had been messed over by credit card companies. There are several public relations staff in this work. In Jos'e Canseco's autobio, he mentioned how yucky he thinks it is that A.Rod is so polished and set up for the camera. The PR ppl here similarly look plastic and practically like used care salespersons.
At first, this work states that both parties are to blame for the problem. However, if you look closer, you will see how the party that supports the elites always is also the party that supports these companies. Honestly though, news coverage of the housing crisis admits that some people should not have been buying property they should have known they couldn't afford. This documentary never points the blame at the everyday careless person. Yes, these companies are sneaky. However, I do wish folk would realize that credit cards are not free money. There are ppl dumb enough to think that they can take the money and run; they should know what pied pipers these companies are. Some of the problem is pure naivete.
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