on October 19, 2010
This priceless documentary presents a devastating expose of the staggering Wall Street swindle that caused the economic meltdown of 2008. The interview with Martin Feldstein brought back to mind the hoopla of his appointment as chief economic adviser to President Reagan. The movie points out that Feldstein initiated the financial deregulation follies that led to the looting of the Savings and Loans and culminated with the passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, the lead sponsor of which was Senator Phil Gramm. It was truly depressing to see how this massive swindle was pulled off through the collusion of the economic advisers, politicians, high-flown professors of economics with scandalous and highly unethical conflicts-of-interest, investment banks, and ratings agencies. At the end of "Inside Job," Robert Gnaizda lists various groups that should be prosecuted. When asked why this has not been done, he answered: "It's a Wall Street government!"
Some of the topics in the movie were covered in the FRONTLINE broadcast "Inside the Meltdown" and in the FRONTLINE broadcast "The Warning." The latter exposed how Brookley Born was sabotaged by Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers--the Troika that is directly responsible for the massive fraud perpetrated by the Wall Street crowd.
It is reassuring to see that some members of Congress were competent. Senator Byron Dorgan (D. North Dakota) voted against his own party, predicting that the repeal of Glass-Steagall would lead to massive taxpayer bailouts. On 19 September 2009, Senator Dorgan was interviewed by Scott Simon on "Weekend Edition Saturday." The following is from the transcript at:
<<Sen. DORGAN: Well, I mean, it does precious little to say I told you so, but this was 10 years ago on the floor of the U.S. Senate. At the time, I said I thought it was a huge mistake and, you know, I was critical of the Clinton administration and critical of the Republicans in Congress who were pushing it.
But what I said is I think within a decade we're going to see massive taxpayer bailouts. I didn't necessarily know that for sure but it turns out my prognostication was a pretty expensive lesson. Because it made no sense that we should repeal Glass-Steagall and the protections that were put in place after the Great Depression.
And the result of that, in my judgment, was to steer this economy into the ditch and cause a significant economic wreck that's going to take us some time to get out of.
SIMON: The timing is something that intrigues me, 'cause you said this in 1999, whereas you note your party was in party.
Sen. DORGAN: Uh-huh. Well, but let me just say to you that the legislation that was passed by the Congress was called Gramm-Leach-Bliley--all three Republicans. Phil Gramm--those three Republicans led the approach. It was Republican legislation but warmly embraced by President Clinton, Secretary of Treasury Rubin and so on.
But I was one of eight U.S. senators that went to the floor of the Senate repeatedly in opposition to what they were doing. And, you know, as I said, I made some prognostications and say if we do this we're going to see massive taxpayer bailouts in the future.
And unfortunately, that has been the case.>>
"Inside Job" goes much deeper in exposing the extensive unethical conduct and shameless conflicts-of-interest of so many professors of economics, especially Frederic Mishkin, a governor at the Federal Reserve until August 2008 and now at Columbia University. According to the movie, he co-authored a fraudulent paper "The Stability of Icelandic Banks," without divulging that he had been paid $124,000 by the Iceland Chamber of Commerce to write it. In his current list of publications, he has changed the title to "The Instability ..." John Campbell, the chairman of Harvard's department of economics is left speechless--with a bewildered facial expression--when he is asked about the conflicts-of-interest of his department members.
How can anyone believe anything that is published by economists?
on October 28, 2010
For anyone interested in knowing what caused the bottom to fall out of our financial sector and economy to the tune of trillions (shouldn't that be all of us?), Ferguson takes a complicated topic and spells it out in an intriguing, understandable and methodical way. We knew things were awry; but this really blows the lid off the deal. I don't think this is what the Founding Fathers had in mind...a billion-dollar cabal with club members including the upper echelons of Wall St, Washington and academia.
Nice blend of Matt Damon's narration and the interviews. Definitely riveting...and troubling. Even more distressing and disturbing for those who have suffered as a result of the financial collapse. Unlike many documentaries that conclude with some specific 'calls for action', "Inside Job" leave viewers awestruck and without a laundry list of what to do or who to call. In any case, very well done and highly recommended. Also, keep an eye on the large and impressive list of those who declined to be interviewed. Their silence was deafening.
on October 30, 2010
Inside Job is a great documentary on an extremely important topic. It drags out a lot of hanky-panky dirty laundry and points out a lot of lies and stupidity -- and the tempers will flare of the ideologues who helped get us into the current economic crisis/mess, but so be it. It also can give the average intelligent person a foot in the door to understanding the world in which we live and the background for the financial crisis, that in my considered opinion is not yet over. In fact no end is in sight. Only the shape of the slippery slope is uncertain.
I have looked into this quite a bit, and at first I thought it was going to be simply a super sort of Frontline documentary with great photography of Iceland American cities, etc. that integrated well with the interviews and narration.
I think though, that in the end they did a very nice job and there was a freshness to bringing together even the many facts that have been published here and there over the last few years.
I especially appreciated their preciseness about the clear warnings of the impending economic "tsunami" from respected scholars and the International Monetary Fund and European Finance Ministers and how these were brushed aside by the old-boy network of Washington and Wall Street. As they sing in the Opera Evita, "When the money keeps rolling in, you don't keep books." There were more warnings than they presented in the film. I would have included those by Kevin Phillips for example. But the film had enough to make its points.
I also very much appreciated that they brought out the really terrible conflicts of interest among professional academic economists at universities. They did not go deep enough for my tastes, but at least they got into it. In fact they could also have gotten into the very selective use of mathematics in academic economics, by these economics professors that get fat checks from the finances industry, in building idealistic models that can have too little to do with the real world. Instead the film focused on the cozy relationships between professors of economics, universities, and Big Money. They left out that university administrators love to see cozy relationships with business because it brings in money and connections and fame.
It was very interesting to watch big faces on the big screen as they were caught in their evasions and lies. Very well practiced people!! Usually not a flicker of guilt. Though a few did at times show nervousness when they were being caught.
After the film some of us discussed how it was possible that some of these culpable executives could have agreed to go on camera when they were so vulnerable. My theory is that they have gotten to where they are because they are smooth talkers. And they are egotistically self-confident that they can answer or deflect any questions. Moreover they are not used to giving interviews with media that has done its homework. In this respect I give the film makers credit for doing their homework.
The film did a nice job of tracing the origins of the crisis to the deregulation policies of the Reagan administration in the early 1980s and what became the permanent installation of Big Money ideologues and players into the highest levels of government. They could have said more about how difficult it would have been to reverse these policies and undo the networks that were brought into power. They could have said more about why banking interests were able to sell their ideologies to the American people. But one cannot include everything. There was already a lot to chew on.
Everyone in America should be interested in the financial stability of the economy. Everyone regardless of political persuasion. This is NOT a political movie. Its' not Michael Moore.
There is a principle in the law: "qui bono?". It means "Who benefits?".
Finance and economics are complex, too complex for many of us to understand. This movie makes the complex understandable. We live in the aftermath of this. The Great Recession. The Republicans blame the Democrats, the Democrats blame the Republicans. The Tea Party blames everyone. All of these are wrong. What this movie shows is a massive conflict of interest of the people who rate the financial health of companies, even countries. What is shown is economists rating these companies for Moody's and Standard & Poors (rating agencies), who are being paid to give favorable ratings by the same companies they rate! Not just faceless nobodies, Glenn Hubbard, now the Dean of the Business School at Columbia, Frederic Mishkin, a governor at the Federal Reserve and also current the president of Harvard, when they were just economists. We see investment houses secretly shorting (betting against) the very poor quality Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO) bonds and companies they were recommending as good investments to other clients. We are shown raters who, rather than doing their jobs and warning of financial instability, gave high investment marks to Bear Sterns and Leeman Brothers two days before they went bankrupt. And these people profited.
This movie names names and actually interviews many of the people responsible for the American collapse who shamelessly ignore, lie or try to minimize their personal responsibility. Many others responsible refused to be interviewed...
The movie traces these problems from the laws set up in the 1930's to prevent such conflicts of interest and start another Depression. The Glass-Steagall Act prevented Wall Street investment houses from owning FDIC insured regular banks with peoples deposits or speculating with their money to bet on the stock market. The movie shows the incestuous moral hazard nature of Wall Street regulation, weakening of financial rules under Democratic and Republican administration: Reagan, Clinton, Bush and how the laws have not been fixed under Obama! See this movie, see what's really wrong with the economy and where the money (and the jobs) went! This movie is like a nonfiction version of Wall Street II.
The only possible minor criticism I could make of this movie is there is a lot of short editing of interviewee's statements. A sentence might be out of context. But I think the director probably got the real intent correct.
I don't know about you, but when I put money in the stock market based on a brokers advice, I don't want to broker to go behind my back and secretly short the stock he's telling me to buy!
This movie is entertaining, informative and disturbing but of vital importance to understand. You angry about the economy? Find out who you should angry at (hint: it's not who you think!) You think you are a conservative? perhaps you aren't conservative enough. Makes you wonder, "where are the Weathermen, now that we need them"?
on November 22, 2010
Inside Job is a documentary written and directed by Charles Ferguson, narrated by Matt Damon and starring Ronald Reagan, Alan Greenspan, Bill Clinton, Henry Paulson, Robert Rubin, and many others whose obsession with deregulation and whose regulatory failures led to the banking crisis and worldwide recession that began in 2008 with the bankruptcy of Lehman and AIG and the collapse of GM and Chrysler.
The movie dissects the origin and development of the mortgage bubble, it's meltdown and the resulting world recession which resulted in 30 million people losing their jobs. Like Michael Moore's documentaries, Inside Job is composed of ambush interviews, news clips and comments most of the key players who declined to be interviewed and by critics of banking practices and regulatory failures beginning with the Reagan administration and continuing until the world wide economic crash which began at the end of the Bush administration in 2008.
The documentary takes viewers step by step through the developments, beginning with deregulation debacle in the savings and loan industry under Reagan and continuing through subsequent administrations including, importantly, the repeal under Bill Clinton of the Glass-Steagall Act which had required the separation of banking and riskier securities trading activities since 1933. The elements leading to the housing bubble and the financial meltdown were deregulation of the banking industry, securitization of the mortgage industry through the creation of mortgage derivatives, excessive bank leverage creating excessive risk and failure of the bond rating houses to accurately assess the risk brought about by securitization of subprime mortgages.
The movie is similar to several of Michael Moore's movies such as "Wall Street, A Love Affair." Inside Job's lack of Moore's humor is more than made up by the detail and clarity which it provides about the dogmatic faith in unregulated markets, abuses, growth and influence of Wall Street banking behemoths and how they have captured government economic and regulatory policy, including the recent weak regulatory bills signed by Barack Obama.
However, one of the most compelling and damning portions of the documentary is its expose of how the financial industry pays economists at top universities and graduate business schools to write articles expressing their viewpoints without disclosing the payments they get for the "research" and serving as directors of the companies. Larry Summers, former Clinton Treasury Secretary, Harvard President and chief Obama economic adviser has made millions consulting for hedge funds. The Dean of the Columbia Business School, former Bush chief economist, R. Glenn Hubbard, and Reagan economist Martin Feldstein came across as arrogant and defensive when pressed by the interviewer about their ties to Wall Street and their role in the rush to de-regulation and tax cuts for the richest Americans. John Campbell, chairman of Harvard's economics department and Glen Hubbard were reduced by the interviewer's questions "to stammering obfuscation," to borrow a phrase from A.O. Scott's N.Y. Times review of the documentary.
The most discouraging conclusion of the documentary is it's demonstration of how seamlessly the the baton was passed from the Wall Street insiders and fanatical Friedmanite free market economists to Treasury Secretaries and de-regulators in the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush administrations. And many of the same true believer captives of Wall Street were appointed by President Obama, belying and undermining his eloquent vows to reform the financial industry.
To borrow another phrase from A.O. Scott's review , the movie is "about a crime without punishment" and with millions of victims.
on February 20, 2011
First of all this is an outstanding documentary that everyone needs to see, not only for the information on the financial crisis but to understand that our government/politicians are just as corrupt as the banksters. This movie will make your blood turn cold when you see how "we the people" have been sold out by our officials. Now to anyone that is claiming this movie is critical of only Bush and the Republicans they clearly did not see the movie and are nothing more than propagandist for their "cause". Everyone in the movie is implicated (including Obama) and it made me switch my party affiliation to independent and begin writing my representatives including the President, telling them I will no longer support them as they continue the same policies that maintain the status quo of inequality and wealth concentration while the rest of America is forced to sacrifice and endure more human suffering while the elite continue to see record profits. All in the name of bank bailouts, so the rich can hold onto what they have and continue to take more and more. Bottom-line watch it, it will change your life.Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America
on October 29, 2010
If you want to understand what has happened to our economy you have to see this movie. This is the best documentary I've seen in a long time. It is less one-sided than the usual expose style film. It puts the facts before you and lets you decide what you think. Chances are, you'll think you REALLY want something to be done about regulating the financial industry. It shows what an engineered Inside Job the Great Recession was and is. And it shows how the financial industry controls Washington. The people responsible for this talk about it in the most off-hand manner, as if taking down the world economy for their own gain was simply their right, and we should just shut up already. Unbelievable egotism and deceit! Make sure you see and take several people with you. The more who know about this, the better.
on November 18, 2010
Charles Ferguson's "Inside Job" is a brilliant and totally persusaive documentary about the economic meltdown of 2008. Relying strictly on recorded fact and expert testimony, the film is an efficient as the slitting of a throat, and leaves us in no doubt as to whose throats are being slit.
Narrated by Matt Damon, "Inside Job" shows us step by step how financial deregulation, reckless lending and an insane reliance on the derivatives market led this country and the world to the brink of financial ruin. It is painful to watch Frederic Mishkin, a former member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, sputter like a schoolboy when asked to explain why he wrote a report praising Iceland's financial system when in fact the entire country was circling the bowl. It is infuriating to see the bristling indignation of Glenn Hubbard, George W. Bush's chief economic advisor, when asked why he advocated financial deregulation that ended up costing U.S. taxpayers trillions of dollars. What is even more painful and infuriating, however, is to see mortgage foreclosures continue at a record pace while the so-called recovery is too weak to support job creation on any meaningful level.
The only place "Inside Job" falls down is at its end, when it issues a half-hearted call to arms. Ferguson has already made the point that Barack Obama has offered only token opposition to Wall Street kleptomania and continues to reward the same people and activities that Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush rewarded in succession. What conceivable presidential candidate in 2012--one, that is, with a prayer of getting elected--would do differently? No question about it--U.S. taxpayers are stuck paying through the nose to make sure Wall Street executives continue to receive their hundred-million-dollar bonuses.
on September 25, 2011
This film is really an eye opener. I'm no economist, Harvard maestro, and do not pretend to be an expert in any of the issues, I'm just trying to learn the reasons without all bias political bull/s. This film did a good job of explaining many of the reasons for the American 2008 financial downfall.
It is really depressing because you realize money lobbyists, politicians, and greedy banks with deep pockets are the ones that are king in Washington.
The poor, middle class, and the ignorant do not seemed to have a chance in America nowadays.
If all Americans would educate themselves of the issues occurring in our country, we would be angry realizing how Washington, lobbyists, banks, even our stupid regulators such as SEC screwed us up by looking the other way. But the sad part is that people are either too busy trying to keep a roof over their heads, and food on the table, or honestly they don't care to be keeping tabs of the complicated mess in Washington.
This film included
- How investments banks work (which I found very interesting),
- Explained deregulation of investment banks starting with President Reagan,
-Shows interviews with President of Harvard & Dean of Columbia which is interesting to see how hostile they become when they realize thier dirty laundry will be on air for everybody to see.
- It also show clips of banks CEO'S squirming when questioned by Congress.
-The big atrocity of rating agencies such as S&P who gave great ratings to toxic investments which people relied on and invested on them, such as the Mississippi retirement group
-The big disappointment of our current administration not doing anything to prosecute these dogs.
What would make anybody sick is that many of these greedy parasites didn't go to prison for what they did to the American people.
And there's plenty of blame to pass around here, it is sick...
We, Americans, need to stop this madness.
on July 6, 2011
One interviewee references the crazy investments and deals engaged in by Wall Street which created the 2008 Financial Credit Crisis as "weapons of mass destruction." If there is one underlying point I think being made by "Inside Job", it is that Washington has become beholden to Wall Street executives who write much United States legislation that benefits their own goals, and Wall Street may need to have much less of a voice in legislative decision-making, but that is probably not going to happen any time soon. The argument made since Ronald Reagan has been that easing and in some cases eradicating certain checks and balances in the financial market, i.e. regulation, would cause heightened prosperity for all, and regulation stifles prosperity. But in fact, except for those in the top 1% income bracket and other elites at the top of the heap, wages for average Americans have been generally stagnant for the last 30 years, while earnings at the top have increased exponentially. Top financial executives who used to make a few hundred thousand a year, which still seems like a lot of money, receive pension packages and stock options now worth in the hundreds of millions, while many other Americans barely scrape by and lose their jobs and their homes.
In 1981, Ronald Reagan, in his inaugural address, stated that "Government is the problem." Reagan was blaming the economic woes of the 1970's on government regulation. In the 1970's, the U.S. experienced one of the worst recessions since the 1930's. However, the reason behind the recession really had nothing to do with over-regulation. Because Europe had been devastated by World War II, the US had a short-lived monopoly on exports, particularly because its manufacturing infrastructure was possibly the best-functioning in the world while Europe was rebuilding. America fueled a reputation of having the best products and the best services in a global market from about 1945 to 1970. But by the 1960's, Europe's manufacturing infrastructure had rebuilt itself and no longer had to rely exclusively on American products, and Japan was also entering into a global market. At the same, American companies began to cut corners in terms of quality products, and the combination of new manufacturing competition from Europe and Japan caused a reduction in consumer demand for American products which plunged the United States into a recession.
Ronald Reagan did not blame corporate America for its short-sightedness and its unwillingness to innovate, which is what a lot of economists now feel was partially responsible for the recession. Instead, Reagan and the Republicans blamed the US Government for the recession, and his economic advisers advocated a reduction of government agencies and a significant loosening of regulation in business. The mantra became "regulation stifles business" which therefore "stifles economic growth", even though there was almost no historical evidence to this effect. This anti-regulation rhetoric finally caught up to the financial sector in the late 1990's under Bill Clinton, and significant deregulation of much of the legislation passed during the Depression was enacted.
According to the documentary, the deregulation allowed financial companies to engage in a buffet of risky enterprises which 20 years ago would have been illegal. For example, investments banks, which primarily engage in helping companies find capital for projects, could now buy and sell individual loans in the same way Wall Street bought and sold stock. The industry convinced itself that these loans were the next big investment haven, and these loans would be packaged to investors like stock. Investment banks convinced investors that these loans were low-risk high-yield investments, and therefore demand for these loans, particularly housing mortgages, began to skyrocket. Smaller mortgage companies began giving loans to anyone who would sign their names on the contracts, despite whether or not they could pay the money back, and these were sold to the investment banks who would turn around and sell them to investors.
The inevitable outcome was that when many of these risky mortgage-holders started defaulting on their loans, the housing bubble ceased and prices began to drop. When prices dropped, investors stopped buying these loans and investments. And companies like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers were holding billions of dollars of "toxic mortgages" that they had planned to sell to investors but now couldn't, which caused a ripple affect in the industry and plunged the US into a recession. Essentially, these loans being sold to investors were much riskier than the investment banks characterized them to investors. Many of these investors, including retirement and pension funds, lost billions of dollars.
The moral of the story is that there has to be much more governmental oversight into the operations of these financial companies. Governmental oversight does not mean these companies can't do business, but they have to be held accountable and should have to pay penalties if they engage in fraud. Some have argued the investment banks were defrauding investors, and fraud is a felonious crime which can result in jail time. But the sobering reality is that most of the people who advise our law-makers are not the people who predicted the crash, but Wall Street insiders who are ultimately interested in their own corporate objectives rather than the economic well-being of the nation as a whole. Still, corporate finance, despite having nearly destroyed their own industry is still fighting tooth and nail to prevent the very regulation that has helped the US prevent these recessions. It is interesting that some of the largest advocates for financial deregulation declined to tell their side of the story for this film.