Recent Documentary Movie on the 2008 Financial Crisis

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Recent Documentary Movie on the 2008 Financial Crisis

Postby tadamsmar » Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:28 am

I saw the documentary Inside Job yesterday.

I has gotten little or no mention here, I can't find a post on it via searching. Perhaps it's only in limited release. I saw it an a small independent cinema that shows this kind of movie.

A discussion of much of the content of the movie would violate the guidelines here, so perhaps that is why there are few or no posts here.

I think its a good movie on the financial crisis. It gets very high ratings at Rotten Tomatoes. But one warning: it's a talking-head-fest that bored the heck out of my wife. She actually wanted to go to it based on reviews that she had read, but I would warn against dragging your spouse to it. It's not a date movie for most couples.

I have read some books are articles about the financial crisis. But I did learn a few things from the movie, for instance the fact that at least some of the most influential universities have no guidelines to prevent conflicts of interests in their economics departments. But anything I learned (including this example) gets into prohibited topics here.

Here's the NYT review:

http://movies.nytimes.com/2010/10/08/mo ... nside.html

I tried to find a review in the WSJ for balance, and this is as close as I could find to a review of the movie:

http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2010/09/23/h ... l-streets/
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Postby livesoft » Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:37 am

I think it is in limited release. From the reviews, it appears to be one of those documentaries that you would watch on PBS. I do not think it will appear in a theater near me, so I will probably watch it online after it appears on PBS. :)
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Postby FafnerMorell » Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:55 am

While I've found reading through the various books & articles on the crisis interesting, there doesn't seem to be much substance to proposed fixes - usually the problem is summarized as "There wasn't enough regulation" which is shorthand for "There were actually hundreds of regulatory agencies, with tens of thousands of regulations, writing hundreds of thousands of pages of regulations, but it didn't catch the problem".

But that's in the past - I'm sure we've got things sorted out now (by handing a few more hundred agencies, with a few more tends of thousands of regulators, and a few more hundreds of thousands of pages of regulations") so this time, it really will be different.
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Postby Adrian Nenu » Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:16 pm

Moral hazard - what should have happened to AIG, Citi, Merrill, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, etc executives:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gekaEzqj5g

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Inside Job

Postby bobcat2 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:54 pm

I have an advantage in posting about this movie, because I have seen it. :) I think the best parts are where Ferguson is interviewing someone involved with the financial crisis and he asks the individual why his/her organization did something really stupid and/or really risky, instead of something savvy and/or low risk. Then the interviewee gives a really dumb defense of the actions that were taken, apparently expecting Ferguson to be as clueless about finance as most members of the news media and accept this nonsense reply with no follow-up questions being asked.

Instead the mild mannered appearing Ferguson says that is really stupid. The interviewee, somewhat staggered at that point, asks why. Ferguson plainly tells him or her why. That is followed inevitably by something truly lame such as the one guy asking, "Can we turn this stuff off now?" :lol:

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Postby mithrandir » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:10 pm

I saw the preview through Flixster on my Roku box.

This documentary does not appear to be something you would want to fork $10 a head to see in a theater. Like others have said this looks destined to show up on PBS.
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Postby Valuethinker » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:36 pm

livesoft wrote:I think it is in limited release. From the reviews, it appears to be one of those documentaries that you would watch on PBS. I do not think it will appear in a theater near me, so I will probably watch it online after it appears on PBS. :)


AFAIK it will not show up on PBS but I don't know how that works in the US. But it was not made in conjunction with PBS.

Ferguson's No End In Sight was also a limited coverage (but excellent) film.
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Postby bobcat2 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:40 pm

Here is a link to the WSJ review of "Inside Job". The review includes a short clip from the movie. There are several movies reviewed in the link. "Inside Job" is the next to last movie reviewed in the group.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704696304575537913562672970.html

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Re: Inside Job

Postby tadamsmar » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:43 pm

bobcat2 wrote:I have an advantage in posting about this movie, because I have seen it. :) I think the best parts are where Ferguson is interviewing someone involved with the financial crisis and he asks the individual why his/her organization did something really stupid and/or really risky, instead of something savvy and/or low risk. Then the interviewee gives a really dumb defense of the actions that were taken, apparently expecting Ferguson to be as clueless about finance as most members of the news media and accept this nonsense reply with no follow-up questions being asked.

Instead the mild mannered appearing Ferguson says that is really stupid. The interviewee, somewhat staggered at that point, asks why. Ferguson plainly tells him or her why. That is followed inevitably by something truly lame such as the one guy asking, "Can we turn this stuff off now?" :lol:

BobK


I agree that the ambushes made for much better cinema than the charts, graphs, empty factories, empty macmansions, occupied tent cities, helicoper shots above Wall Street, non-confrontational interviews.

The ambushes of the professors and deans at top business schools were good because these guys were totally blindsided by questions related to the fact that they were paid write this or that policy paper.
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Postby tadamsmar » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:57 pm

One interesting revelation was that the feds have at least one hooker who has gone state's evidence about faked expense vouchers. The movie implied that the feds are in a position to embarrass lots of Wall Street execs into singing, but they apparently don't consider it sporting to to a Wall Street exec do what they did to Eliot Spitzer.
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Postby denismurf » Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:08 pm

It's hard to imagine a movie that could reveal anything significant about those events that was not already revealed in Too Big To Fail, which I just finished.

I was depressed all over again by the fact that not one of the arrogant, lying, wealthy captains of finance that came within a gnat's eyelash of destroying the world financial system has served a day in jail for their behavior.
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Postby mammasaid » Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:16 pm

I thought it was a good movie, more unsettling than enjoyable. But as an economic crisis junkie I didn't have to pay particularly close attention. It might suffer just a bit from trying to bring a lot of information to general audience. But I would recommend it to everyone who is interested in the events of 2007-2009 and onward.
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Postby SP-diceman » Mon Dec 06, 2010 10:54 pm

tadamsmar wrote:do what they did to Eliot Spitzer.


I thought he did it to himself.

:)



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Postby califboglehd » Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:37 am

I thought the film was very well done. It takes a complex subject and puts events in an understandable framework. As always, your politics will color the way you see it.

For me the most telling statement was that financial institutions strive to be as big as they can so they can wield more political power and be viewed as indispensible when a crisis comes. Post-crisis it seems that the big have gotten bigger... and that concludes my investing advice :wink:
At the end of the day... it's the end of the day.
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Postby magellan » Tue Dec 07, 2010 2:12 am

I saw it and didn't really like it. It was ok, but certainly not great. Maybe not even good. I had high expectations going into it, so maybe I was just expecting too much.

I thought I'd get an intelligent and nuanced exploration into a complicated and multifaceted subject, but it often felt more like an angry rant interspersed with smugness. Everything and everyone was portrayed as either black or white. There was no nuance at all, and there were often attempts to connect dots that I didn't think went together.

In truth, I'm reasonably sympathetic to the overall message of the movie and I kept wanting them to drive a point home for once and present a rock-solid case from soup to nuts. Instead, they seemed to flicker around from topic to topic and never take the ball all the way to the goal. They spent much more time fostering rage than creating understanding. Or to quote a famous boglehead phrase, they often seemed to generate more heat than light.

IMO, it was closer in style to Michael Moore than PBS. I say that not to dis Michael Moore, but to suggest it was more advocacy or point of view film making than objective documentary.

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Re: Inside Job

Postby magellan » Tue Dec 07, 2010 2:20 am

tadamsmar wrote:The ambushes of the professors and deans at top business schools were good because these guys were totally blindsided by questions related to the fact that they were paid write this or that policy paper.

Thanks for reminding me about this. His exploration of this topic was a highlight for me. I don't think the academic-corporate nexus has received much press at all, and it does seem like this, along with the regulatory revolving door are two huge problems in the current "design" that the movie did a good job highlighting.

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Postby tadamsmar » Tue Dec 07, 2010 11:11 am

denismurf wrote:It's hard to imagine a movie that could reveal anything significant about those events that was not already revealed in Too Big To Fail, which I just finished.

I was depressed all over again by the fact that not one of the arrogant, lying, wealthy captains of finance that came within a gnat's eyelash of destroying the world financial system has served a day in jail for their behavior.


I have not read "To Big to Fail", but there were to revelations that I have not seen in other sources:

1. The conflict of interests of economics professors at Columbia and Harvard (and some other colleges that I did not recall) who were paid to defend the practices that led to the crisis and who failed to reveal this either in their resumes or in the papers they wrote defending the practices.

2. The fact that the Justice Department is not putting the heat on higher ups in wall street using information they have about them buying hookers and drugs on expense accounts. This could be used to make them turn state's evidence.

BTW, An HBO movie based on "To Big To Fail" will come out next year.
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Postby magellan » Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:32 pm

tadamsmar wrote:2. The fact that the Justice Department is not putting the heat on higher ups in wall street using information they have about them buying hookers and drugs on expense accounts. This could be used to make them turn state's evidence.

This was a good case of the flicking around I mentioned. IMO, the most interesting part of this story was the difference in treatment between the Wall Street execs and Spitzer. I know we shouldn't go there on this forum, but the movie just dropped a slight hint about this and moved on.

There was no reporting or investigating of the prosecutors or their motivations to shed light on why the disparity existed. They spent lots of time showing video of red light districts and interviewing a madam. But that footage didn't tell me anything I didn't already know about how some corp execs behave. If that's all they had, it should have been left on the cutting room floor. IMO, there's nothing in that story that helps explain the crisis or that's unique to wall street.

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Postby tadamsmar » Tue Dec 07, 2010 1:07 pm

magellan wrote:
tadamsmar wrote:2. The fact that the Justice Department is not putting the heat on higher ups in wall street using information they have about them buying hookers and drugs on expense accounts. This could be used to make them turn state's evidence.

This was a good case of the flicking around I mentioned. IMO, the most interesting part of this story was the difference in treatment between the Wall Street execs and Spitzer. I know we shouldn't go there on this forum, but the movie just dropped a slight hint about this and moved on.

There was no reporting or investigating of the prosecutors or their motivations to shed light on why the disparity existed. They spent lots of time showing video of red light districts and interviewing a madam. But that footage didn't tell me anything I didn't already know about how some corp execs behave. If that's all they had, it should have been left on the cutting room floor. IMO, there's nothing in that story that helps explain the crisis or that's unique to wall street.

Jim


Did you know that Wall Street execs were illegally charging hookers to their expense accounts?

I can't find any other source for that.

Maybe the prosecutors don't have hard evidence of the faked invoices. Then all they have is a hooker's testimony. So I guess the speculation in the movie about non-agressive prosecutions was a bit weak.
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Postby magellan » Tue Dec 07, 2010 1:20 pm

tadamsmar wrote:The new part is about the non-agressive prosecutors. Right? So you wish they had not learned about the non-agressive prosecutors? Why?

Maybe I'm showing my ignorance about how these prosecutions would work, but wouldn't both cases have been in the same jurisdiction and covered by the same prosecutors?

Anyhow, I guess my issue was about which angle they were going after. If the angle was that wall street types are different from others in their use of prostitutes, then I just don't buy it. OTOH, if their point was that there was a double standard in how these cases were prosecuted, they have to either put up or shut up.

Btw, here's a true story from when I was a greenhorn engineering project lead. I went to a customer site to troubleshoot a design issue and we got badly reamed out in a customer meeting. I was even a bit shaken. Later, after we solved the problem, I asked the account manager if the account was at risk. She matter-of-factly replied "No, what you saw earlier today was mostly theatrics. I just need to arrange a rendezvous between Jack and his favorite lady-friend and all will be forgiven." Neither my company or the customer were wall street firms. Maybe my experience was very unusual and this was just a rogue salesperson and a one off. In any case, it's made me a bit skeptical about claims that this is just a wall street thing.

Jim
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Postby norookie » Tue Dec 07, 2010 1:26 pm

SP-diceman wrote:
tadamsmar wrote:do what they did to Eliot Spitzer.


I thought he did it to himself.

:)



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Candidly I think not, and after seeing(Not that a movie makes up my mind) Client 9:The rise and fall of Elliot Spitzer. Simply reinforces my opinion. I'd thought about this years ago,........Like the powers that be left the Kennedy clan, when they turned on them. For decades Kennedy's were killed, vilified, or died in accidents. Elliot Spitzer was undoubtedly set up by big Wall Street money. He was both interfering with and exposing "their" schemes as AG, and they didn't forget that as he was approaching higher political office. JMO
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Postby Sonoran » Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:16 pm

Adrian Nenu wrote:Moral hazard - what should have happened to AIG, Citi, Merrill, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, etc executives:


Did you mean this video Adrian?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gLN3QoN-q8
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Re:

Postby pingo » Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:39 pm

I, too, am sympathetic with much of the documentary

You get the sense of who are the film's heroes and angels by who isn't asked "gotcha" questions. The documentary leaves me wondering how it could confront villains about never questioning their own conflicts of interest or ask them why they didn't look a little deeper at information upon which they based their papers...it leaves me wondering if it was avoiding asking it's heroes similar questions.

I kept wondering why it was not indicated or asked:

Whether hedge fund manager George Soros ever knowingly or otherwise participated in actions or promoted products or engaged in the financial industry (and crisis) to profit or in ways that make markets riskier or more volatile?

How Soros had made so much profit over the last quarter century in a financial system whose collapse and increasing risky behavior he has regularly decried?

Whether he has taken advantage of Collateralized Debt Obligations or Credit Default Swaps for profit or protection, and why?

There are other moments here and there where I would ask, why didn't he ask this kind of question that he has asked so many others?

It made me wonder if there was any lack of transparency or conflict of interest on the filmaker's part, or whether the filmaker was meekly trusting what his people were telling him, without respectfully questioning the information or conclusions. The filmmaker certainly was intent on pointed that fault out in others, but I was left wondering if it wasn't a fault of the maker?
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