The financial crisis has affected everyone, from middle class home owners to outsourced factory workers in some of the world’s poorest communities. Inside Job lifts the lid on exactly how the catastrophic collapse of the world’s economy was not only perpetrated but in some cases actually pre-meditated.
Narrated by Matt Damon, it traces the root of the problem back to the Reagan administration and its policy of deregulation and shows how through the corruption and greed of banks we came to be in the situation we are today.
It uses clearly laid out and well explained graphics to not only explain technical terms like CDOs (Collateralised Debt Obligations), derivatives, and MBSs (Mortgage Backed Securities) but to show exactly how this large scale fraud was accomplished – a real achievement considering how the technical jargon could have made it impenetrably dull.
Writer and director Charles Ferguson has managed to corral an impressive assortment of talking heads. This is no lightweight documentary based on a lone outsider’s opinion but a powerful and far-ranging exposé which includes interviews with the Former Governor of New York, Eliot Spizer (soon to be the subject of another documentary Client 9); Christine Lagarde, the French Minister of Finance; Glenn Hubbard, Chief Economic Advisor during the Bush Administration and Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore.
It’s unfortunate that those who seem to be most responsible declined to be interviewed (notably former Chairman Of The Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan, Ben Benanke the present incumbent and Hank Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs and former US Treasury Secretary) but that’s only to be expected.
Inside Job reveals that greed was what caused the collapse of the entire system. With deregulation, bankers could bet on assets that didn’t even exist yet and with the complicity of insurance companies and financial ratings firms, eventually made money by betting on the failure of assets which they themselves had recommended using a monetary sleight of hand that Charles Ponzi himself would have been proud of.
The film goes further that by suggesting that even debate of the economic situation is stifled because many of the economics professors at prominent universities hold positions on the boards of powerful banks – a potential conflict of interest that they’re not even obligated to disclose. Even worse, this culture is unlikely to change as there’s a revolving door between the echelons of high government and Wall Street. Even under Obama who proposed widespread financial reform, very little has changed – Ben Bernanke was recently re-appointed as Chairman Of The Federal Reserve despite several controversies.
Inside Job is a far more impartial documentary than any of Michael Moore’s films, Ferguson doesn’t ambush interviewees or slyly report cherry-picked facts but it’s no less provocative. That’s not to say it’s not angry – the tone of outrage is impossible to suppress, especially in the last quarter. You’ll be shocked, appalled and enraged not only by the monumental greed and duplicity which it uncovers but also by the fact that none of the culprits has been indicted for a plethora of financial crimes ranging from insider trading, bribery, money laundering and massive international fraud.
There’s always a debate as to whether documentaries deserve cinema releases and Inside Job goes some way to justifying that with some spectacular city shots. But more importantly, international distribution brings a worldwide audience and everyone should see this; the content is vital, imperative and will make you want to grab the next banker you see by the lapels of his jacket and shake him till all his teeth fall out.