15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
This hour-long (actually 55-minute) episode aired on PBS in late January 2013. It's another fine FRONTLINE investigative episode - written and narrated by Martin Smith - that will have you fuming - especially if you got hit by the financial crash on Wall Street. As Smith explains - though what may be a bit too technical for the average consumer - is that the loan companies were making week loans and then selling them to the large banks that lost money on them. But the high paid bankers didn't lose there jobs and not one Wall Street Firm was even charged with fraud and taken to trial!
There were lots of "whistle blowers" and Smith finds and interviews them. They are very open about what they saw. But when Smith goes to interview the FBI folks, they clam up. There are no real "answers" here but a lot of documented "Questions".
The DVd has no bonus features.
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2014
"More than four years later [after the financial crisis of 2008], Frontline investigates why no Wall Street executives have gone to jail. Did the government fail?"
The above comes from the introduction of this revealing documentary by the public affairs television series "Frontline." This particular program was televised January 22, 2013.
To be more specific, Frontline investigates why the U.S. Department of Justice has failed to act on credible evidence that Wall Street bankers knowingly packaged and sold extremely weak mortgage loans to investors.
It was these loans that brought the U.S. and world economies to the brink of collapse.
To get to the heart of the matter, there are brief interviews with:
(1) Top prosecutors
(2) Government officials
(3) Industry whistleblowers
Finally, the DVD chapter titles are as follows:
(3) Due diligence?
(4) Frustration in Washington
(5) Why no criminal indictments?
(6) End credits
In conclusion, "Frontline" seems to never disappoint. This is yet another well-done program. After viewing this program, you'll probably ask yourself:
"Are the CEOs of mega-banks too big to jail??"
(2013; 55 min excluding end credits; 6 scenes; wide screen; PBS)
<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2014
The problem goes deep, because the giant corporations own the politicians of both parties, so congressmen will not take action when outright fraud is clear to everyone. Our system of government is broken and nobody has the answer, which is for the government to take over the corrupt banks and close them down. The Supreme Court only makes the problem worse and the President is also owned by the corporations. What's the answer?
4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2014
Frontline has gone so downhill in the last few years that it really is nothing more than a propaganda mouthpiece trying to prove an agenda. I guess if you accept their agenda than you will like what they have to say but if you are an intelligent person who does independent research into issues you will find that they make many mistakes, errors and omissions in order to peddle their narrative of the particular issue they are covering.
In this episode they are 100% positive that criminal fraud was conducted by the CEO’s of Wall Street firms and they want to tell you why they weren’t prosecuted. Note that they don’t investigate IF there was fraud committed, NO, that’s assumed. So this episode starts off with a giant false assumption (hence why there were no criminal trials) and builds their whole narrative/agenda off of this falsehood. If you accept the false assumption to begin with than you might be persuaded. However, if you know the facts and do your own research you will undoubtedly reject their fantasy and therefore find this episode highly unpersuasive.
Here are some of the initial false claims.
Claim: After the implosion of the CDS market (this is what brought down the economy NOT the housing bubble as the film incorrectly states) Wall Street CEO’s were worried because they felt they could be held liable for fraud.
Reality: They were never worried about this, several of the top legal counsels for these men have stated this. The reason being was that the CDS market was created by congress through FIRREA and later put off limits from regulators by congress again and the CFMA.
Claim: With a new administration (Obama’s) coming to town they were worried about being prosecuted
Reality: Obama received more money than ANY other politician from Wall Street. Nine out of the top ten recipients of Wall Street are Democrats. The first TARP bill attempt, which was rejected by the Republicans, tried to funnel 680 million dollars to the largest Democratic Wall Street Donors. It was a pure political ploy by Pelosi, Reid, Frank and Dodd to pay back their donors. Paulson was either ignorant of the political ramifications or in on it (which I don’t know) but he did wise up and the second bill which passed wasn’t so blatantly a payback to the Democratic Wall Street donor class. The reality is with the D’s controlling congress and a D in the white house. The majority of Wall Streeters owned Washington, they were relieved that McCain didn’t win because he was the one who stopped his campaign and fought the first bailout bill. They were worried about him not Obama who was bought and sold already.
Claim: There was broad support in Washington for prosecution
Reality: Rhetoric is what politicians do, anyone who is older than 21 should know this so in reality we have to look at actions. The actions of Washington showed that the majority of bought and sold congress people just wanted to sweep this thing under the rug. In fact just think about any legislation that has been enacted to “stop” this from happening again. Is there any, nope. We can thank the biggest Rope-A-Dope in history, Occupy Wall Street for that.
Claim: Wall Street was in charge of the underwriting standards of loans.
Reality: Home Mortgages used to be strictly regulated by laws but these laws were changed to help minority and low-income borrowers help achieve their dream-home, this is the CRA that right-wingers claim caused all the harm, it didn’t, but it is a key to understanding the beginning. At first it proved moderately successful but changes to the law with FIRREA and further changes throughout the 90’s basically gave banks carte blanch to write loans to anyone they deemed worthy of receiving. Besides if the banks did not write enough loans to low income people they were then harassed by “community groups and nonprofit organizations” and the FDIC could sanction the bank. Ben Bernanke was pretty forthright about this problem to congress and reading his testimony would be a good education if you are unaware of this. So in reality it was Washington DC and their changing of the laws that were in charge of the underwriting of loan standards. These shaky and terrible loans were a direct result of government’s manipulation of the market. BTW two of the key players in this was Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. 2nd BTW, the film tried to make a villain out of Countrywide’s CEO but he is on record speaking to congress in 1989, saying that if you remove the lending standards there will be millions of fraudulent loans made and a resulting housing bubble that will burst and have dire consequences to the economy. He warned congress yet they did it anyway and now they blame him and the CEO’s for doing what they wanted done. Amazing. Remember also that countrywide gave multi-million dollar loans at nearly zero interest rates to three influential Democrats, including none other than Chris Dodd, the chairman of the Senate banking committee. Hmmmmm.
One of my biggest complaints about this film is that it gets the whole cause of the economic meltdown wrong. It keeps claiming that the mortgage defaults was the meltdown. This is ludicrous. The head prosecutor kept mentioning that many people were being investigated and put in jail over the “real issue” – CDS, but the frontline reporter didn’t care at all about that.
Bottom line is that there is not enough evidence to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” criminality of CEO’s. What can be proven is that specific loan originators were knowingly putting forth false applications and over 2,000 have been prosecuted successfully. However to prove that a CEO of an investment bank, who’s job is sell tranches of loans, knew that a single loan out of the hundreds of thousands they processed annually had false information in it, is ludicrous.