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Frontline: Inside the Meltdown

4.2 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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(May 12, 2009)
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$13.68 & FREE Shipping on orders over $49. Details Only 7 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

FRONTLINE investigates the causes of the worst economic crisis in 70 years and how the government responded. The film chronicles the inside stories of the Bear Stearns deal, Lehman Brothers collapse, the propping up of insurance giant AIG and the $700 billion bailout. It also examines what Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke didn't see, couldn't stop and haven't been able to fix.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: .
  • Directors: Michael Kirk
  • 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: May 12, 2009
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001UW59KS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,157 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Inside the Meltdown is an episode of the popular "Frontline" television series, giving the behind-the-scenes stories of the Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers business collapses that kicked off the present day economic crisis, followed by efforts to support insurance giant AIG and a 700 billion dollar bailout. Inside the Meltdown especially focuses upon the sudden, catastrophic dilemma thrust upon Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, whose fear of "moral hazard" - the concept that bailing out a failing business will only promote and encourage more failure on their part - had to give way to the larger, possibly economy-destroying threat of a resounding ripple effect stemming from the collapse of giants. An absorbing documentary that presents the downfall of multigenerational institutions in plain terms for viewers of all backgrounds, Inside the Meltdown is especially recommended to public library DVD collections. 60 minutes, color.
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I always liked the PBS Frontline series as they tend to be less biased than most documentaries, especially when it comes to politics. I remember seeing the announcement on TV by Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson stating that if congress didn't immediately pass the bailout bill, the entire economy would crash by Monday.

This video gets into the gory details of the response to the meltdown and why certain things were done and others were not. Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, AIG, the catalysts that set off the worst economic downturn since the great depression.

If you want a more extensive view of the meltdown, I would recommend watching this in conjunction with FRONTLINE: Ten Trillion and Counting, i.o.u.s.a., and Frontline: The Warning. This combination gives a much bigger picture of the U.S. financial crisis.
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September 18, 2008 the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke arrived in the capital for an emergency meeting. They had already bailed out one bank, allowed another one to fail, and nationalized three of the nation's largest companies. Senior legislators were told that unless they were given 700 million dollars immediately there would be no economy the following Monday. That was Thursday. This is the start of Frontline's: Inside the Meltdown.

Frontline covers the gathering economic recession that became evident in the spring of 2008 and the actions and reactions of the Secretary of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve. It was the fall of dominos starting with Bear Stearns which had billions of dollars in what came to be known as toxic assets of mortgage securities and credit default swaps. Paulson, a long-time believer in free market economics found himself challenged to let the market chips fall where they may, or stave of economic panic with federal subsidies. He goes with the latter.

But Paulson's nightmare is not over with. Next is the privately run and owned Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, two of the largest mortgage lenders. Paulson finds himself in the dubious position of once again staving off disaster by nationalizing both companies. Before he can fathom the intervention he has always shunned, he finds a new disaster cropping up in Lehman Brothers. This time he follows his principle of "moral hazard." That is to let the company fail from its own mismanagement. He does, and the reverberations are not only felt nationally but around the world.

As the bell sounds twice, thou shalt deny free market capitalism thrice to paraphrase the Bible, and Paulson is becoming big in denial of lifelong beliefs. A.I.G.
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PBS didn't manage to interview the main character here: Treasury Sect. Henry Paulson. Still, the 60 minute tv documentary does a decent job of boiling down what led up to and after the financial crisis of the fall of 2008 when the nation's biggest banks almost collapsed due to their subprime loans falling apart. Paulson's recent memoir, "On the Brink," tells his story very well. Here, you get a few too many reporters and not enough real players. But the effect is still informative.
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Brilliantly informative and understandable for the layman. This video should be required watching in the high schools and colleges.
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I've read (and watched) quite a few accounts of what went wrong in the 2008 financial-economic crisis and what has (and has not) been done to prevent a recurrence. Yesterday I watched this documentary produced via PBS. It is a bit dated; (copyright 2009) and primarily a focus on what was done in the first weeks after the real crisis began, and why. There are much more comprehensive accounts if you're interested; for example focused on this short time-frame "Too Big to Fail" either the book or the movie is excellent. This did contain a few statements affecting my view [possible spoiler alert now]. That when "Hank" Paulson said Lehmann went bankrupt because the government did not have the "authority" to rescue it, this is essentially a lie. This explains how Bear-Sterns was "bailed out" before, which was no more illegal than a bailout of Lehmann Bros would have been. The real reason why Lehmann was allowed to fail was to reinforce the idea of "moral hazard" ie, the government would not rescue every large financial institution that risked billions (or trillions?) of dollars in bad gambles. Paulson was taking a lot of heat for rescuing Bear Sterns and decided he had to "draw a line in the sand" somewhere. Perhaps it was the wrong decision (because that act is what really led to a total freezing of credit market operations and possible worldwide financial collapse) but perhaps it was also necessary as Congress probably would have done nothing had there not been an obvious emergency. In any case the argument that the government "couldn't" was purely an excuse. [Let me say I'm not one subscribing to the idea that Mr.Read more ›
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